Thursday, July 23, 2009


Have you ever met your guardian angel? Really met her? I have. I have always remembered that place and longed to return to it ever since.

It was back in my college days. I was in the middle of nowhere and my stomach was growling. I had been on the road since the previous morning, on the way across the states to visit a friend back east. It was a sparatic decision I'd made to go. One day I was sitting around in my apartment feeling lonesome, and the next my bags were packed and I loaded the car up with my belongings and headed out on the open road.

My last granola bar was eaten before noon that day and I knew now was the time to break out my stash of cash. I'd been saving this wad of bills for about a year in anticipation for a rainy day. I thought about the rolled-up bundle in the glove box. I'd added to it almost every day if I could. Honestly, I hadn't even thought to count it yet.

My stomach growled and I remember looking around at the sparse view. I thought I would have to wait awhile before getting anywhere I could spend some money on something to eat. I was still lonesome. Somehow I thought driving across the states would make me feel better. It only succeeded in making my heart hurt more.

But then something down the road caught my eye. A shack? No, it was a little store. I wondered what was it doing way out there. As it got closer I noticed a sign that read "MaryLou's" in big red letters. "We've got everything." That's quite confident, I thought.

When I went inside I was greeted with a lovely warm mixture of scents, somehow familiar. I closed my eyes, it felt natural. I picked out some of the scents I recognized: cinnamon, apple cider, new leather, cedar, and some other kind of spice... rosemary?

"Can I help you?" a woman with a curly, unruly hair was approaching from the back of the store. She wiped her hands on an apron she was wearing and had flour smeared across her face. I smiled at her unconsciously. It felt like home here in a way. I had missed the feeling for too long. She watched me for a moment and then asked, "You want a piece of fresh peach pie?"


The hours slipped by there in the store unnoticed. I'm not sure what kind of spell I was under, but the store had some magic to it. So did MaryLou. She chatted with me about several different things, her children, long grown and gone, her love "passed to a better place" as she called it. I was mainly quiet, but comfortable. She never prodded me for information about myself and I liked it that way. I shared things with her when I wanted to. It was a new freedom to have a conversation like that. I didn't want to leave and she didn't make me. It grew dark and I slept there in the back of the store where she made up a cot for me. It was so kind of her.

The next day she helped me load a bunch of things into my car. She insisted. I handed her some of my cash and she accepted graciously. But then after driving about an hour, I spotted the cash I'd given her sitting on the seat next to me. I shook my head in awe. How did that woman survive?

That's a question I've had on my mind ever since. On the drive back home I took the exact same route, to be sure to stop in and see MaryLou again. But her shop wasn't there. I never came across "MaryLou's" again. I've wondered about it and longed for it ever since.

Yet somehow it didn't surprise me. It was a magical place. That's why I say my guardian angel's name is MaryLou, the one that's got everything.

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