"the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
- henry miller
i placed my small basket-full of items on the checkout conveyor belt. whole wheat flour, feta cheese, and pasta for dinner later. also among my findings was a small, square greeting card with a simple quote from henry miller. i could have easily scrawled the quotation on a bank receipt crumpled at the bottom of my bag. but i'd resisted my usual talking-myself-out-of the unnecessary purchase. it had moved me. filled me with a rush of joy for being alive. it perched itself inside my chest and fluttered about a bit.
the 20-something wild oats checkout guy didn't say hello. he just started scanning, disinterested. then he picked up the card, flipped it over and read it while i waited and watched his expression. he let out a snort. a bored, unsmiling laugh and said: "funny."
i didn't get it. miller's words had fluttered for me. was i being overly dramatic? over romanticizing? taking myself too seriously? was it ironic? was i not sophisticated enough to get it?
so i replied: "um. funny?"
he looked up at me for the first time to answer, slightly frowning with "you-idiot" undertones: "yes. funny."
i suppose i could have gone on with my day. but i continued softly, "i'm sorry, but i'm genuinely curious...what do you find funny about it?"
he paused. i suspected he didn't know either. or he couldn't possibly get himself to care. i almost felt bad for making him talk to me.
"because..." he answered coolly, tilting his head to one side as if his patience was being tested by a difficult child, "henry miller was such a peculiar writer...and they used such a peculiar font for that quote." he handed me my card, and my change.
i looked at the card with uneven letters, then up at his joyless face. "ha. i see. i must have missed that."
but he was already scanning the next customer's items. he didn't thank me or suggest to me that i should have a nice day. i didn't reply "you, too." i simply walked away, wishing i didn't care. joylessly, soberly aware.