Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On Being Seen at South Plains Mall

A couple of days after Christmas Irie and I took some of the money we got from my family and went down to Dillard’s department store for shoes. Dillard's is in South Plains Mall, and my favorite hangout from sixth through eighth grades. I loved it because there was no telling who you might run into there. It was all about seeing and being seen. Plus, SPM holds the unsubstantiated claim to being the world's largest one story shopping mall, which really doesn't make sense since a lot of stores there have more than one story. But anyway:

The lady who waited on us at Dillard's was real cordial but I could tell we interested her a great deal. As we were paying out she finally had to ask. “Where are ya’ll from,” she said. I told her that I was born in Lubbock but that we live in Vermont now.

Now most people when you tell them where you live will ask how you like it, what the people are like and so forth. Not this lady. When I told her we live in Vermont her immediate response was, “Don’t ya’ll just want to get back to Texas?”

“Well, not really,” I said.

“You don’t?”

The idea that life might actually exist beyond the Arkansas River seemed unbelievable to this woman. The chat continued on. She asked what I do in Vermont. I told her I am an American Baptist pastor. She had never heard of American Baptists.

“Is that like Southern Baptist?” she asked.

“Yeah, sort of,” I said.

She seemed incredulous.

“Same God? Same Jesus?”

“Yes, same God. Same Jesus.”

I read her eyes. They were saying, “Mr., are you telling me that not all Christians are Texans?” I was telling her even more than that. I was telling her not even all Baptists are Texans.

This news had her flipping out. Overcome with joy at just the thought of it all.

As we were leaving she yelled after us. “We’ll see each other again!”

Irie and I made our way past cosmetics and through the juniors section toward the door and then ran right into my high school girlfriend. She and Irie had not met and things were a little surreal for a second.

None of us had imagined seeing each other with sweat suits on and sneaker boxes in hand. No one had a chance to look in the mirror or put on high heels. We were all just us and perhaps that was life's way of saying that everything is okay now, there is no need for pretense.

And there wasn't any need for pretense because everything was okay. After the nerves wore off for us all we talked about marriage and kids. She said her dad is sick with cancer. I said I was sorry to hear that and I was.

It was brief, but meaningful. Almost sacramental. I left Dillard's with the knowledge that God is redeeming us all, and certain that what the shoe lady said was Gospel truth:

We will all some day see each other again.