Last night it happened again – the stars aligned and everything was perfect. Things that “should not” have happened, HAPPENED. And once again, when I thought through it all step by step and giggled about the perfectness of it all, I wondered WHY and HOW do such things fall into my lap? I discussed it with David, who came up with what feels like the right answer: I am AVAILABLE.
If you make yourself available to things around you, you get to experience them. I don’t mean “available” as in calendar/schedule wise. I mean available as in head-space, heart-space, and mind-space wise. I now realize that I am a super “available” person. I am open to what is going on around me and willing to take it in, let it happen, and experience it.
That availableness is not always rosy. I was open, willing, and available to take care of 3 parents as they died. Being really “available” means taking in the sadness, pain, and heartache more than those around you might, just as much as you take in the positive vibes. I was available to really want to get chosen as a juror in a murder trial – then that “availability” opened me up to quite a long period after the trial was over to wallow in fear, sadness, and anger.
But more often than sad things, my availability seems to bring me joyful things.
So back to last night.
I love Freecycle – it is an online group where you can give things you no longer need or want to someone who can use them. It keeps things out of landfills and helps users get items at no cost. Last night I was giving away a can of chunk chicken. Seriously – a can of chunk chicken! It was given to us by a friend who we help quite a bit, and she does not have money but wants to repay us so often that repayment comes in the form of food. We accept the food because it is her way of thanking us, and if it is an item we do not want, I give it away to someone else who needs it. So last night a lady replied saying she would really like the can of chunk chicken to use for making sandwiches. Cool! I gave her the address and sat the can out on our front porch swing for her to pick up, as I do with all Freecycle exchanges. It is RARE to meet a person when they come to pick something up, I think it has happened one other time. Normally they run up the steps, grab it, and go. That is how the whole exchange is “supposed to work”.
An hour or so after putting the can on the porch swing, we walked out the front door, on our way to the County Fair, juuuust as the chunk chicken lady was opening our front gate. Nice – we got to meet her and hand her the chicken. Then, to make polite conversation, I told her we were just leaving to walk down to the fair and asked if she was going (everyone in Arlington goes…). “Not this year,” she curtly replied. “Hmmmm, it seems like there was more to the message than her words said,” I thought. “Do you normally go?” I pried. Well, it turns out that she has been one of the judges at the fair and involved in organizing the whole competition part of it since back in the 1970s! And from what she said, there was a big rift this year with the fair, “Wanting to go paperless!!” (her emphasis, which was very negative for some reason J ). She explained that not only she resigned, but a majority of the judges quit (I think 11 out of 17 quit maybe?). She was obviously bitter about it, and I sort of encouraged her to talk more as we walked with her to her friend’s car and she got in. Guess what – her friend was also a disgruntled former fair judge! Hahaha.
Let me take a minute to explain – we live very, very close to the fair grounds – around six blocks away. Like, people park in front of our house to walk to the fair, ok? And we have lived here for 14 fairs, yet never, ever entered anything to be judged. Every year I think about it, sometimes we even talk about it, “Wouldn’t it be fun to enter a cucumber?” or “Hey, this photo might win a ribbon at the fair!”. But we have never done it. Actually, some years we are out of town for the fair, but there have been several where we have been around and attended but not entered anything.
And let me also explain – we live in a CITY. We are, as every real estate ad in our neighborhood says, “One stoplight away from Washington DC”. We live by the Pentagon, Regan National Airport, and Arlington National Cemetery. This is NOT a small town. Yet as urban as the area is, the annual County Fair is just like one you might find in the middle of a tiny Midwestern town. There are rides and tacky games with carnies overseeing them, but there are also pony rides, miniature pig races, and an air conditioned indoor area where people compete to see who has the best honeycomb and who made the nicest quilt. It is straight out of Mayberry!
So, the ex-fair ladies told us, “TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT FOR ENTRIES. You can enter anything in the competition until 9:00 pm.” When I mentioned maybe I could enter a peach, she explained you needed to bring THREE peaches.
Whaaaaaaaaaaat???????????? Oh it is ON, baby!!! I got to giggling and laughing just DREAMING about actually entering something in the County Fair! It was around 8:00 pm at that point, so we literally ran back to our house and into the garden! YES! I got 3 peaches from what is left out there – one had already fallen off but wasn’t bruised and 2 were on the tree – not our prettiest peaches but hey, it is the end of the season!!! And David picked 3 cute little cherry tomatoes to enter. Wheeee! I told him to please pick a few extra so we could eat some on the way, but we were so excited walking down to the fair that we didn’t remember to eat them.
Which turned out to be a good thing, cuz guess what? When we went to fill out the loooong forms, it said you needed 3 peaches, but 6 cherry tomatoes to qualify to enter, and that is exactly the number he had picked!
So we did it! After 13 fairs coming and going right down the street, we entered something! And we might well win (especially our peaches – we finished registering ten minutes before the deadline and we were the only peach entry thus far…)! As you can probably surmise, I am thrilled.
It isn’t just the idea of winning a silly ribbon that makes me giddy, it is that everything came together so perfectly. Look at allllll the little bits that had to fit together juuuust right to make that happen:
· Our friend had to give us a can of chunk chicken
· I had to post it on Freecycle THAT DAY, even though we had it for over a month
· That woman had to come pick it up at exactly the same time we were leaving the house
· I had to ask her about the fair
· She had to insinuate with her voice that something was odd about the fair
· I had to recognize the insinuation and pull more info out of her
· It had to be the one night a year when you can enter things for the fair
· We had to have peaches left
· And we couldn’t have eaten any of the cherry tomatoes on our walk!
See what I mean???? When I think about these things, as trivial as they may seem from an outside perspective, I love it! I love that everything meshes and falls into place, if you are a person who is available and willing to be open and accept.
I love being a person who is available!!!
P.S. - Wish us luck on our peaches and tomatoes!