Anyway, we strolled through the mall, beverages in hand, and laughed and joked, and made sideways glances at people who may or may not have been dressed up in piss poor excuses for halloween costumes. There were several people that the verdict is still out on. We wove ourselves in and out of shoe stores and she found several pairs of boots that were "almost it, but _____ is wrong." She knew exactly what she was looking for. I, also had a pair of boots in mind that I figured I would never find....a calf high, kitten healed, casual/dressy boot in a neutral shade of brown. The impossible search.
We made our way into Rack Room Shoes, and she grabbed a pair to try on. And then I spotted the perfect boot....a calf high, kitten healed, casual/dressy boot in "cognac." Impossible search over. I tried it on and it fit perfectly, and I checked the price....only $40! The store was having a "buy one get one 50% off" sale, so we tried really hard to find a pair of boots that would work for The Musicmaker, but still, nothing was quite what she wanted. So we made our way up to the counter with my perfect boots in hand, and while we waited in line behind another customer, I began to tell her the story of E's dalmation costume, complete with the sound effects of me barking like a dog.
Then something weird happened.
The guy in front of us in line turned around and said, "That was a great dog impression. I actually looked around for a dog." I responded with something casual like "yeah, I have a two year old...I do stuff like that a lot." He turned back around to finish his purchase and I went on with my story to my friend.
Then the guy turned back around and noticed the box of boots in my hand. "What are those," he asked. I was a little confused at this point about why he cared, so I said, "Boots," with a question mark on my face. He kind of nodded and then said, "Can I see them?" Again with the confusion. But I handed him the box and he took them and turned toward the counter.
At this point I look over at my friend, who looks just as confused as I do. I think I actually said out loud, "what just happened?" She shrugged and glanced around the guy to see what was taking place at the counter. "Maybe he's using your boots to get the half off thing?" she asked. I shrugged back. Then the guy turned toward me, gathered up his bags, and said "Pay it forward. Have a great day!" Then he quickly walked out of the store and disappeared.
We stood there shocked for a minute and the clerk asked, "Did you know that man?"
"No...not at all!" I said back. The clerk handed me a bag with my boots in them. "He paid for your boots." We walked out of the store, looking around for the man, but he was gone. Now I, thanks to OS, think I may have watched way too many episodes of Criminal Minds lately, because I immediately thought, "What if he's a serial killer and this is his M.O.!" But I think I just happened to encounter someone who wanted to make someones day better. And he did...with a pair of calf high, kitten healed, dressy/casual boots in the "goes with almost anything shade" of cognac and the simple request to pay it forward.
Something else happened to my while I was walking through the mall. This same time of year just a couple of years ago, I walked through the mall with the same friend. But I was a very different girl. My marriage had fallen apart literally just days before. Together, we walked, me with a broken spirit and a face still puffy from a lot of crying. I kept switching my wedding ring from finger to finger, trying to find it a new home. (It's weird how when you are faced with divorce one of the biggest dilemmas presented to you is what to do with your wedding ring. You'd think the focus would be elsewhere...but it's just there staring you in the face.) I was pretty much a zombie walking through the mall, trying to let go of the life I had been living and grasping at tiny little straws of the possibilities in front of me. I couldn't see that it would ever be better. I couldn't see that it would ever stop hurting. I couldn't see that I deserved a better life.
But she could. So she did the thing that God made best friends for, and she just walked with me that day.
And yesterday, while we walked through the mall, it hit me like a ton of bricks that we had been there before, only life looked so different then. So while we walked, her chit-chatting about work and boots and life, completely oblivious that I was having a moment, I silently thanked God for giving me a friend like her to walk with.
To the guy who asked me to pay it forward....thank you...and I will.
And to my friend, who has walked with me through the mall in the best of times and the worst of times,
I love you. Let's walk again soon.