I was tasked with writing a Hermit Crab Essay in class this week. My professor suggested we don’t give it too much thought, don’t belabor it (we have a ton going on right now) so I didn’t. I sat on my front porch, felt the cool wind blow, and wrote for fifteen minutes on my phone, then copy and pasted this mess to the message boards. Then I thought you all might like it too. I hope you do. Remember, it’s not all terrible right now. We still have words, and art, and Craigslist Missed Connections, and funny Hermit Crab Essays about the things we cherish the most in this life.
Craigslist Missed Connections
Respond to: BasicBitch@basicbitch.com
I’d just left my therapist’s office, and decided I needed a kiwi. I was looking for any reason to be happy after crying for forty-five minutes. I decided on a kiwi. I drove to Kroger as the wind picked up and the small drops of rain started. This time of year isn’t my favorite. The cold, the rain. On top of what we’ve been through already. It’s all too much.
I hurried inside the store while struggling to get my mask in place properly, and shielding my hair from the rain drops when I caught the first glimpse of you up ahead. I stopped dead in my tracks and the memories came rushing back.
I’d been dreaming about you for months. In all my hopes for happiness, for normalcy, you were there, always just out of reach. This realization came to me quickly, brought me back to reality, forced my feet to slush faster through the puddles now forming. I sprinted past the pumpkins on display on the haystacks outside, grabbed the first cart I could find, not even bothering to sanitize it, and ran toward produce where I saw you again.
You were there, right near the caramel-covered apples, but you weren’t alone. You never are. This time you were with a petite, blond woman. She seemed frail and cold, wrapped in a grey scarf, rubbing her hands together to warm them before wrapping her hands around you. The sight sent a shocking sensation through me, like when you get a lidocaine shot at the dentist and they accidentally hit a nerve. The sight of you hurt, but it was worth it.
I’ve been a mess, honestly. I’ve been stretched to my mental, physical, and emotional limits this last year. My therapist says I need to look for positivity, wherever, whatever that is. She says I need to stay optimistic that the future will hold goodness, and I want it to hold goodness. But now, more urgently, I want to hold you.
I watched you walking with the blond woman, further away, back toward the deli, so I followed. I’m not sure why I did it, I just did it. Moved my body without thinking much. My therapist’s words echoing in my head, desire pumping through my veins, propelling me toward you, but for what? You were with her. And I didn’t dare get too close. I stayed well over six feet away.
And what did I expect to happen? Did I think I’d be able to snatch you away from her? Did I think I had some possession over you, some agency that she lacked? Was I more deserving, would I treat you better? No. I know I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Plus, this damn mask. How would I…? And in a Kroger of all places.
So there we were. So close, yet so far away. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough to make a move. I’m sure next time it will be different, but for now I sit and wait for word from you. I sure hope you’re the goodness I need.
If you were in that Kroger last week, if you were with the woman in the grey scarf. If you were that tall, piping hot pumpkin spice latte, please write back. You know who you are. The one in the white cup with PSL written in sharpie on the side. I’m waiting.
Kroger Woman in a Black Mask