Unexpected love at the grocery store. Waiting for the checker. Big beautiful brown eyes above a mask appear. They are lit up. I recognize them. I tap my heart twice. She taps her heart twice. She misses our sessions. She announces her pregnancy. A boy, she says. I smile big and then lower my mask for a second to show her. That’s the best appreciation anyone can show me she says. Is my hair different she asks. Yes, I wear sunscreen and sweat in it these days. Laughter. Well, stop dying your hair, I like it gray. I’ve never dyed it I say. Goodbye. Stay safe. The checker and bagger relax perhaps because they see I am familiar with one of theirs. Are Buzzcocks a clothing brand? An “alternative” grandfather to these “alternative” kids. No, they are a first wave British punk band. Lots of melody and heartache and frustration. Unique. Try them out. They look at one another. Yes, I’m a weird old man. I will, one of them says. Leaving the store another familiar set of eyes behind fogged up glasses. This one I love as well. She is tough. Guarded. Afraid of love. But I miss her anyway. Very contained. Talk of how difficult it is to wear glasses with masks. She says she’ll walk with me to my car to bring my cart back. I can tell she wants warm presence. She doesn’t have that at home. I do too. But she’ll never know. Or perhaps she knows in the way people know things without knowing things. It’s almost more sweet than direct expressions of love. She maintains a respectful distance. I do as well. Wow, you filled up two cardboard boxes. Yes, the boxes are so helpful. Only two trips from my car. It takes a lot to keep this (pointing to fat belly) fed. Laughter. Goodbye. Tears on drive home. Will lounge for a bit. Will drop groceries at dad’s. Will pack a book and a drink maybe. Meeting N. on our fallen tree trunk at 2pm. Who ever would have thought that a friend date would consist of meeting on a giant tree trunk? I think we will continue to meet there in the years to come. I think we will always remember the horror and loveliness of this time in history on that trunk.

A perpetually broken heart, when it is not burdened by exhaustion, is always on the lookout for love and beauty. It is raw and defenseless. It is unable to create strategies. It is…young.

I was about to stop writing when I remembered my first interaction with the person I first spoke of above. She walked into my office with a big smile. She sat down and said, “This is a very Hitchcockian office.” “I’m a very Hitchcockian therapist” I replied. And that tiny joke created more initial rapport and gave more information than any formal evaluation.

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