This morning a stranger sat next to me in a cafe. I was in a fog, just surfacing after 4 days of flu-like symptoms combined with a stomach virus that resembled dysentery without all the fun.
During those 4 days, I spent 3 at home semi-comatose, not working or doing much of anything. I did manage to drop my laptop and the screen shattered. It will be fixed on the 16th. Did I mention the 16th is the day after my deadline to overnight my book to the professional editor? I guess I will plan on getting it to her Christmas week, especially since the rewrites I need to do before I send it off are on said broken laptop.
The day I dropped my computer, my husband’s Subaru slid on the ice and into a curb, so front end work and a new rim are now needed. Oh and the washing machine died. And I haven’t bought or made any gifts or sent any cards.
So I’m sitting there this morning minding my own latte when this woman, who looks vaguely familiar only because we are the same species, pulls a small matchbox out of her purse and hands it to me. It is decorated with glitter and paint and a picture of Elvis Presley holding a guitar and smiling in a 50’s-era blazer with piping. I don’t know what to say but I am cognizant I am accepting the gift. She leans in and says, “Take him around, Elvis likes to travel.” And then she is gone.
I slide open the matchbox and there is a turquoise bead, a capsule of dirt, 3 tiny worry dolls, a bean of some kind and a folded note. The note says, “If you could kick the person responsible for most of your troubles in the backside, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for two weeks.” The bottom of the inside of the matchbox shows a guy who might be a Mexican Elvis holding a giant globe in his powerful arms. He is wearing what appears to be a red thong and black boots, almost Christmassy in a gay burlesque kind of way. Under him it says, “El Mundo.” I turn over the outside of the matchbox and it says on the back, “Magic Matchbox Shrine.” “Each shrine contains worry dolls from Guatemala, healing dirt from New Mexico, turquoise for protection, and an Anasazi bean for strength and wisdom. Carried in purses, the car, or home, these shrines bring blessings and good luck to the carrier.”
So it has not been the easiest of weeks but here is Elvis and he’s come to save me, to lead me to redemption and healing and a holiday season full of good cheer. Once in the 1980’s on a weekend-long bender, I played ‘Suspicious Minds’ over and over again until the cassette broke. I had just been dumped by a guy who cheated on me constantly. So Elvis has helped me before in tough times. And maybe the gay burlesque thong-wearing Elvis holding up El Mundo is telling me it’s time to lighten up, that he’ll take the load, and I can move through this time of year with a tiny bit of grace.