Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…

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Covered in giggles.

To be honest, I don’t really even know his name. But I know his face, his smile — our butcher.  We see him weekly. He always seems happy to see us. Greets us with a joke, sometimes a few attempts in English. This is not common here in France. At no other store, grocery or bakery do we find this human connection. This exchange of, more than pleasantries, but joy! 

Before we left for the US this time, we asked “Can we bring you something from America?”  “Oh, no…” he blushed and smiled, and we knew right then that we would.

It cost almost nothing. In fact we had fun shopping for it — the right hat. A baseball cap that no one else in France would have. Yesterday we went to restock the refrigerator. I was excited. My heart was beating gerbil quick, as I reached the bag across the counter. He looked stunned. “Oui! Ou! Yes, it’s for you!”  He couldn’t believe it. He peeked inside at the hat and in a language that can only be described as joy, he called over his coworkers to see. “They brought if from the US! For me!”  None of us could stop smiling. He held his hand over his heart. He told other customers. The counter was covered in giggles. 

We talked this morning over breakfast (my husband and I, not the butcher). What a gift this was!  And I don’t mean the hat. I’m not even talking about our giving of it — the real gift was this exchange of joy. This moment of happiness. We gave it to each other. 

Perhaps this is the best part of living — why we are here. To be kind. To notice people. To see them. To reach across every counter. Every wall. Every obstacle. And find a way to connect. Reaching out my hand today, I tell you, “Yes, Yes! It’s for you!”

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The line.

We stood in the long line. I didn’t want to be there. I glued myself to my mother’s leg. We got closer and closer. There was a long table of food. An indecipherable melange of flavor. I peaked around my mother’s hip. All I wanted was to find her dish. I knew if I could find it, I would be saved. I didn’t want something from another kitchen, another mother. “What did you make?” I asked. “What color is the bowl again?” We were taught not to hate, especially in this place, this church, but I strongly disliked the occasional pot-luck lunch. I didn’t have words for it then, but I knew there was something about “the making.” To know the maker meant something. It was important. I knew the maker, my mother. I knew her hands. And that was love. And that’s what I wanted. The only thing I would stand in line for. 

After visiting the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I walked around the gift shop. So many beautiful things. It was hard to focus. And then it caught my eye. So small, almost indecipherable, but oh, so familiar. I moved immediately across the aisle. I held it in my hand. “Made in France,” it said. It was a magnet of the skyline of New York, including the Statue of LIberty. A line. A connection. It was familiar. It was mine. This maker, this France, I knew it. It was as warm, as familiar, as the dish my mother made, and I was saved.

Trust the line that connects from hand to heart to others. These are the makers. This is the love worth standing for.