I was walking down Broadway off of Houston Street and stopped into one of those deli grocery marts for a bottle of water. It was a tiny store, with two small aisles; every square inch utilized to the brim. It sold everything from breakfast sandwiches and bagels, to souvenir lighters and key chains.
As I walked into the store, a noisy group of tourists had just paid for their lunch sandwiches and were heading back out into the city bustle. The store went from noisy and crowded to somewhat calm and quiet, as I headed to the drink cabinet for a Gatorade.
A girl was browsing the shelves. Maybe twenty years old. Probably an NYU student. Her black hair was pulled back into a ponytail with head shaved on the sides. She wore a little brown fedora hat and seriously big sunglasses.
Her denim jacket had KISS emblazoned on the back; it was a labor of love, as much artwork as an article of clothing - she had decorated the jacket with rhinestones and patches and painted words and images. A nondescript tattoo peeked out from the jacket's collar on her neck. She had ear buds in her ears and was moving through the store with a little beat in each of her steps.
Her shorts were short; very short. She wore old Timberland boots, the kind that lace halfway up the ankles. She had stenciled an L and an R on each boot. Nice.
As she paid for her things, an elderly woman eyed her and approached her. This woman looked nice enough. She was well dressed. Not overdressed. She had a shopping bag hanging from her arm so I think she was local.
She addressed the young girl politely. "Young lady, I have a granddaughter about your age and I'm so darn worried about your generation. I look at you and all the potential you have and you just don't seem to care."
Well, I think I played a few scenarios rapidly through my mind as to how this was going to go, and none of them were good!
To my astonishment, the young girl, with the biggest smile, said, "Ma'am, I may look crazy but I'm really not as crazy as I look. You don't have to worry about us. We are just fine. I know I am!"
With that she turned to leave. She stopped in the doorway of this little store about to step back into busy New York Broadway, turned her head to us, again with that big smile. I'd like to think she tipped her fedora a bit but I think I may be imagining. But as she turned, she said, "Have a great day," and then she was gone.
I turned to look at the elderly lady, not sure what reaction I would see. She was smiling. Nodding her head slightly up and down, and I just knew she was feeling a lot better about that granddaughter of hers.
I spoke with her for a few more minutes, about that girl, that tornado of enthusiasm and self-confidence. We laughed a bit about how the times have changed so much and yet have stayed the same.
I think about that girl every once in a while. There is no doubt in my mind she is accomplishing great things, and loving every minute of it.
A short moment in a deli.
So much life.