Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blackberry Confessions

Up until the moment that the young woman scanned the package of blackberries she hadn't said a word to me, not even the standard, "Did you find everything you needed?"  Looking down at the dark, indigo berries she said, "I used to love blackberries, but now I don't."  Which invited the query: "Why is that?"  "Because of all the seeds."  Pause.  "And because of my grandmother.  The only time she wasn't evil was when we were picking blackberries together."  I wasn't expecting quite that answer, but I murmured in what I hoped was a comforting way and said brightly, "Did your grandmother make anything with the blackberries?"  "We ate some while we picked and then she'd make cobbler."  Sounded decent enough to me and I said so, then I self-consciously fussed around tucking bags into the cart and being inordinately interested in the credit card scanner.

A woman about my age apologized as she slid into the window seat next to my aisle seat and as she stowed her purse under the seat she asked me if I was headed home or leaving home.  She wore cowboy boots and lots of silver.  When I asked where she was headed - just a routine, polite query - the floodgates opened.  I learned that she'd recently been dumped by her boyfriend; she hadn't seen it coming at all, and tears began to fall as she spoke about it.  He had apparently taken the coward's tried and true route: it's-not-you-it's-me.  She could get no deeper explanation from him.  Everything had been right about him except that in the four years they dated he'd never once picked up a tab or treated at dinner.  He hadn't asked her to move into his house.  To add to it all, her sister had died recently and suddenly of cancer. 

I don't feel as if I have the kind of countenance and demeanor that invites the sharing of personal information by total strangers.  But at the check-out line at the grocery, I hear a lot about weight problems and diets, lousy ex-boyfriends and rotten bosses or lazy co-workers.  And on planes, when forearms and thighs are just a little too close to the person next to you, all kinds of personal stuff comes out.  I guess there is safety in unburdening one's heart to a complete stranger.  Or maybe there is a kind of comfort in reaching out, making a connection in a world that can feel cold and impersonal.  Have I done it?  Said too much to someone without even knowing or asking their name?  Certainly not...And then it occurs to me: I'm a blogger.  


  1. Nice little twist at the end! In your profile, you appear to have a friendly and kindly face. I'm sure that's why people unburden themselves to you.

  2. Brilliantly written post! Deciding how much to share on my blog is a constant debate in my mind. Part of me wants to use the space to unload and share - I certainly enjoy blogs more when I feel like I 'know' the blogger. But another part of me wants to keep personal stuff private...

  3. Great post. I used to joke that I must have a
    Lucy sign (Psychiatric Help 5 cents) over my head, because I also seem to send out some sort of "good listener" vibe.

  4. I think it's great to have the ability to listen to folks' problems, as long as you don't get too involved with them. While you're listening, you're helping that person - and doesn't one feel better for doing that: it doesn't cost anything except time, which can be precious, I do realise.

    So, don't hold back if you happen to attract someone's confidences. It would spoil what appears to be there - especially when you post such readable blogs!


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