I had bought into the idea that the problem must be me, that there was some essential flaw — arrogance, low self-esteem, fear of commitment — that needed to be fixed. I needed to be fixed.

Sara Eckel

A few weeks ago, my editor at Wise Bread forwarded me an email with some requests from freelance journalists who where looking for sources.

“Hi Ashley,” Meg wrote to me, “Scroll down below here — a writer for Women’s Day is looking for a grocery-store insider, and since you’re both a frugality writer and former produce worker, I thought you’d be a perfect fit.”

Sara Eckel was well-spoken, focused, and extremely polite over the phone. She was grateful for any information I could provide. We discussed ways to lower the grocery bill for about an hour, but talk of buying fruit in season began to wane, and I became more interested in her “real writing,” that is, the writing she did to sustain her soul rather than her checking account.

“I’m working on a book,” she said, and then almost too humble to admit it she added, “actually, I’ve had several publishers interested in it, but now they are dragging their feet.”
“What’s it about?” I ask, jumping off my perch on the kitchen counter to open the refrigerator and sigh at the empty racks.
“It’s about women who marry after 40,” was her initial response, but she went on to explain that the book was more about how she spent her 30’s thinking that something was “wrong” with her, only to find out that she hadn’t met the right person.

I closed the refrigerator door, slowly, and then I stood upright again, staring into the sunset, like a slow-motion animated theory of evolution…

…That’s me. One big theoretical design. A never-ending poem that refuses to rhyme for rhyme’s sake. A couplet that will oblige for mnemonic purposes ONLY. A ghazal without a purpose. A graduate degree out of control. A handful of literary coins in the toll taker’s palms…

I walked toward the cape-cod-style crank windows facing due West and listened to her tale, and the tears started to fall like little cliches. Salt bombs and a quizzical glance.

Had I bought into the idea that there was this person for me, or that I was not enough without this person? That there was no poetry without the vacant lot?

Even in the goddamn rain?