Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Tuesday began with rain (after storming all night), the kind of day on which you'd like to stay in comfy clothes and curl up on the couch. But I had worked from home (and relaxed some, too) the day before, and so I had to get dressed in real-world clothes and drive to work. (I had intended to go to the gym, but a gloomy, rainy day is not a good time to resume a habit I'd just as soon not have to resume. So I did some stretches, took a shower, and called it good.)

I decided to wear my plaid top from this Stitch Fix. I love the fall colors in it, but it's still light enough that I don't get too warm. Today I wore white stretch jeans and brown knee-high boots, because that is a thing that is now done: wearing white pants with "transitional" items is okay for fall. If Audrey from Putting Me Together (my favorite real-world style blog) does it, then it's fine by me.

The outfit needed something, though, so I pulled out a necklace made of wooden yellow beads. I liked the look. The cheerful color was exactly what I needed on a rainy day. See:

Oops, it was crooked.
For some reason I started thinking about the origin of this necklace. I bought it secondhand, from a woman I barely knew. Her daughter joined the Girl Scout troop my daughter had belonged to for several years; this mom and her kids attended meetings for around a year before the family moved away, but our daughters weren't in the same age group. That was one reason we didn't get to know each other.

The other reason is that I didn't like her very much. She wasn't friendly. She spent the whole time thumbing her phone or talking with one other mom. Her name was literally Pollyanna and she was blonde. (I never liked those sappy books or the Hayley Mills movie and I guess she didn't either, because she went by Polly.) If you talked to her for any length of time, she would be sure to mention her master's degree.

Perhaps most telling, I didn't like her because even though she had many children (four? five? See, I can't even keep up with them--how did she?) and a demanding job, she always looked poised and put together. I have fewer children and I never feel polished, at least not like that. She knew what looked good on her, and she wore this color of yellow quite a bit.

I may not have wanted to be friends with her, but when she mentioned to the group that she was selling some clothes before they moved, I said sure, I'd like to look at them. We were about the same size and I knew they'd be good quality (read: originally expensive). She brought a huge pile of clothes to the next meeting and I looked through them, selecting quite a few things because she was selling them so cheap.

"Where are you moving?" I asked, making small talk.

Then she told me they were moving to China to become missionaries. That's why she was selling the clothes--because she couldn't take them all with her.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. That really was the last thing I expected from this sleek, affluent woman with the Louis Vuitton bag (which presumably she was taking with her because she definitely didn't offer to sell it to me).

I thought how brave they were to take such a huge step, with four or five young children in tow (seriously, it is bugging me that I can't remember how many there were. These are the useless details I get fixated on.) They had been preparing for over a year, studying the language. Now the time had come to make the move to a place on the other side of the world.

It was brave, and optimistic. To move to a foreign country and believe that everything would work out and the challenges would be worth it. I didn't know any of this; but I could have, if I had gotten to know her before her last week in the USA.

I've since donated most of the clothes, but this necklace has stayed with me. I wear it when I need to be reminded of sunshine, and that we could all use a little of a Pollyanna perspective.


  1. Wow! That just goes to show you just never know what someone else's world is like.

    Also - I find it strange that someone would name their child Pollyanna.

    1. Exactly what I thought in that moment.

      About the name: I wonder what her parents' thinking was. Polly is unusual enough. Hey, maybe that's why she was kind of standoffish; shy about her name? Not really but I do wonder how she got the name.

  2. Meh. For all we know she was a terrible missionary. :) Don't mind me, it's late and I have the aches and pains (and bitchy disposition) of an 80-year-old woman at the moment.

    1. I admit I've thought of this possibility.

      And I hear you on feeling like an 80-year-old woman lately. I'm feeling twinges I've never felt before.