Luray. It’s a sad town with just enough bright signs to lure you in, and enough closed and shuttered store fronts to remind you the country has just been through an ‘economic downturn.’ It’s sad to see the evidence of good people’s hard work not bearing fruit. Dreams that had to be abandoned or at least deferred echoed in the darkened and empty Main street.
We visited Luray Caverns this weekend in Page County and unlike most people (I suspect) we stayed in town instead of making a day trip out of it. It was here, in this forgotten town, that someone anonymously slipped the manager 20$ to go toward our bill at Speakeasy Restaurant off Lee street. We were amazed. Who does that!? They said they wanted to make things easier for us, who were ‘doing the right thing’ by our little girl. (By feeding her?? By not forgetting her at the B&B?) I’m not sure but you don’t look a $20 gift horse in the mouth. Some people’s kids are amazing!
We decided to pay it forward. I wanted to put the $20 toward someone else’s meal that night but we couldn’t agree on who to give it to. (I wanted to give it to the young couple, him to the older couple beside us).
We decided to pay for someone else’s ticket at Luray Caverns the next day but we forgot. (Of course). I was reminded of a quote I heard one of the yoga teachers say once - ‘Be quick to be kind’. The intention (ambition) to do a nice thing gets lost when we wait. So, on the way out we paid the tour guide a 20$ tip - a young kid going to college and working as a guide for the summer. There. Responsibility to pay it forward complete. Easy peasy.
Ellie was a champ, she slept through the whole tour of Luray Caverns (an hour walk beneath the good soil of Page County). I had her in the carrier strapped to the front of my chest so i got a good work-out too. There were two larger ladies (mom and daughter) behind us having a bit of a hard time of it and I felt sorry for them until the daughter asked if they could go walking Sunday nights and the mom said she’d rather sleep.
Then, I felt REALLY bad for the daughter. Trying to be healthy and not being supported AT ALL. I wanted to turn around and tell her I’D walk with her!! Being overweight is a pretty touchy subject these days, lots of ways to offend, and really not any of my business at all. Maybe I should have ‘paid it forward’ by smucking the mom upside the head. Get real mom. You want daughter to be heaving like you are in ten years? Ugh, but NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I don’t know why overweight people tend to get more judged than other people with equally visible unhealthy habits. (Smoking, drinking too much, etc). Or why we judge them at all. Maybe because for most of us the dozens of small choices we make each day (whole wheat instead of white, yep lets take the stairs instead of the elevator) add up over time and draw us in a healthier direction (sure let’s try a game of tennis, feelin’ good!) and we assume that because it feels easy for us they must just be really lazy to not choose the same things.
Habits are hard to break. Habits surrounding food even harder, as I know all too well in my quest to get off the sugar roller-coaster. Because we live in an age where knowledge of how to eat and act healthy are easily accessible we assume changing those unhealthy patterns is the easy, logical next step. Logical maybe, easy, no way. I always say I’m a three hundred pound woman stuck in a 130 pound body. I like to eat. A LOT. And still that is not half the battle lots of women face every day.
Speaking of yummy bad habits…we stopped at Spelunkers in Front Royal - oh my gosh sooooo good. We’ve stopped there before, Bill has the Cavern burger and I have the grilled cheese. Because I’m still 8 years old inside. Anyhoo, I overheard three older ladies behind me gossiping about someone they knew who was a nurse. She got ‘really healthy’ lost ‘a ton of weight’. “Then I saw her two weeks ago she’d put it ALL back on.” (Imagine an older lady, a nudge past chubby, with thick glasses and a thin, mean mouth clucking her tongue in mock dismay). “What? Why!?” (Tall older lady with frizzy white hair pulled back in a severe pony-tail, long thin nose, small rimmed glasses).
“Well she dated a few men, said they were all jerks and she gave up.” Chuckles of agreement around their double chocolate frozen custard waffle cones with sprinkles.
I had to wonder though how much of that was true (she just needed a bigger dating pool!) and how much of that was nonsense meant to throw off unwanted questions from nosy neighbors and to make light of an incredibly painful (personal) battle?
Paying it forward with money is easy. Paying it forward with a genuine attitude of caring for people you don’t know and who you aren't invested in? Almost impossible. And delicate. Paying it forward by telling other people what you REALLY think of them? Probably not a good idea. Should I have smucked that mom upside the head? Probably. The nosy neighbor? Certainly. They both deserved it. But I’m not invested in them, they’re strangers I will never see again. And maybe that’s my argument TO say something. (Go for walks with your daughter! Don’t be such a gossiping nosy nelly!) I should do everyone who knows them but can’t say anything a favor and clue them in. I’m sure the point would be lost. I’d get yelled at (or worse) and the story would be…remember that really rude little girl who told us we were being jerks? Does she EVER need a smack upside the head! Some people’s kids…