My day had been going very well until this afternoon when I started feeling queasy then itchy and sneezy, and then I developed a strange tickly cough. Not sure what was going on and wondering if I’m maybe getting sick, I made a very simple dinner, readied myself for a lazy evening with my family in front of our new favorite tv show – Sherlock – and tried not to worry about my Giveaway. Surely, I would come up with something. I’d asked my husband David if he could go to the grocery store and pick up some food items we needed. He agreed to do so after the show. However, it was after 9pm when it finally finished, and I knew that I needed to come up with a Giveaway soon, so I rallied my strength and asked David to help put our son Theo to bed instead, while I went to our local Gelson’s to buy food. I headed off into the night hoping that the universe would help me, as it so often has with this giving project.
I pulled up in the parking lot and opened my trunk to look at my Giveaway options, an odd assortment of items I keep in bags int he back of the car for moments like these. Typically at this point I would just leave an item on top of the trash can by the door with a note saying “Free” on it, but I didn’t see anything that seemed appropriate as a gift for a stranger. Just then I saw a familiar figure standing right next to the trash can, wearing headphones and looking like he was waiting for a ride. Leo! I hadn’t seen him for months. A tall man in his twenties with an olive complexion and a wide grin, Leo works at the check-out and has bagged my groceries many times. A year or so ago, we had started chatting and he’d asked me what my background was. I told him I’m half-Persian and he became very excited. He loves Persian music and dance, particularly Bandari dancing, which is often called “Persian belly dancing.” He showed me a couple of his moves and just from those, I couldn’t help feeling that somehow he has Persian blood in his veins, or Gypsy blood at least. He is Latino and also has Native-American blood. We had talked on a couple of occasions about the Gypsy music in the beautiful music Latcho Drom, which traces the migration of the Gypsies and their music and dance traditions from Rajasthan all the way to Southern Spain.
Tonight, Leo was my hero. I had been hoping to give him something but hadn’t been at the market at a time when he was there for months now. I grabbed a carved African gourd that sounds like maracas when you shake it and rushed over to Leo, who gave me one of his big smiles and removed his headphones. He asked me how I’d been and we caught up for a few minutes. He told me he had recently discovered that one of his great-grandmothers (I think he said) was from Southern Spain and was in fact a Gypsy. This was exciting news for him and explains a lot about his musical passion and his natural moves. I presented him with the gourd, explaining that it was to go with the music he has in him. He held it up and shook it. The maraca sound mixed with the jingle of his many bracelets and brought music to the late-night grocery store parking lot and to my weary ears.