In my late teens, I had to have surgery on my jaws. The only place that was doing this procedure was in Fargo, North Dakota. We lived two hours away, in Alexandria, Minnesota. My mom drove a light blue mini station wagon. We had no GPS, no cell phone, and no real sense of direction, on the road, and barely in our daily lives.
My mom set out to find the hospital. We had an address and the light of day, but soon lost both. As the sun was setting, we drove around block after block. Nothing familiar. Nothing welcoming. The sun kept sinking and so did our spirits. “We’re never going to find it,” my mother said. “We’re lost.” She kept driving. Slowly. “They’re never going to find us.” Still driving. “We’re going to die in North Dak… “and she stopped. Suddenly beaming. “Oh, look!” she shouted, “there’s Herbergers!” And we were saved.
Herberger’s was our familiar. Our welcome. To those of you who didn’t grow up in the midwest, it was the Department Store. The gathering place. The anchor of the mall. It was home. I am not ashamed to admit that it saved us so many times. It was a distraction. A diversion. A place to go behind a dressing room curtain and be whomever you wanted to be.
Now this retail therapy may be more American than I knew. Here in France, you have to anticipate what you need on Thursday, get it Friday, because Saturday is crazy busy, Sunday is closed, and Monday is closed. Yes, Monday. I remember being disoriented when the American stores were closed on Easter Sunday, so this was a radical change.
It took a minute to detox, but certainly I have. Things are slower. Not better or worse, just different. I have learned a different patience (because it comes in all forms). I have found a different perspective. Closed on Mondays was not going to change, so I had to adapt. Now I look at it as a relief – “Well, we don’t have to go anywhere today, because we can’t. What will I focus on? I should make something.” And so I do. Not just art, not just stories, anything. Here is my chance to make anything. Let’s make cookies. Oh, dear, we have to refrigerate for an hour? I can’t possibly wait that long. That’s how I first started. Still in a rush. Now I bake croissants. They take two days. Two days, imagine that. And worth every roll of the pin.
Time really is nothing. It is what we do with the time. We are offered, once again a new perpective in this Covid time. It is different. It is challenging. But in this time, if we look hard enough, we will find what truly matters, we will see something, the light, and we will be saved.
**The logo for Herberger’s was a rose – hence the title.