I went to a warehouse sale on Friday afternoon for an athletic clothing company I like quite a bit, Title Nine. In true warehouse sale fashion, the dressing room is one big open pipe-and-draped space with some folding mirrors propped on chairs and empty boxes in the middle for rejected items.
The items on sale include swimwear and bras, so women in the crowded dressing room—it's really a dressing area—are down to next-to-nothing. Some women are there with their kids in strollers, others with friends, others alone.
I tried on a dozen or so things. I found the communal spirit of that dressing room surprisingly comfortable, even comforting. Women who were there solo were asking others for help with a zipper or advice on an item about which they were on the fence. Honest opinions were given to and from friends and strangers. No one appeared to be self-conscious about being half-naked in a created room full of people they didn't know. Kids ran around with rejected clothes, or offered opinions of their own.
There was nothing and everything remarkable about that dressing area. I got from that experience the same feeling I had when I ran an all-women's 10K back in Boston. At our best, people want to make connections with other people and help each other out. Of course, that's easy to do when you are running with people who are celebrating the culmination of their training or who are thrilled to be getting a great deal on a dress. It's a different matter when anything real is at stake.
The news about the devastation wrought by Sandy is sad and troubling. On a personal level, I'm happy that my personal acquaintances in the area are all fine. On a larger scale, I'm moved by the grassroots relief work I hear of my friends and others doing to help those in need. It's so easy for things to be ruined; so hard to make them right again.
I've already missed a day of NaBloPoMo. I'm not going to let that get me down.