About halfway through today I texted Dan to ask him out. Out on a date. I have been busy, busy, busy, getting ready for Sunday. And he has been distracted, distracted, distracted with worries of his own.

And by "out" I meant outside. To the back patio. He and me. The wind, the fall temps and a cold one. I asked what he wanted from Mannino's Market. This--his job--to cook the food. We are a team like that. We decided and I picked it up on my way home.

"Oh..." I told him, as I sat and he grilled, "There was a couple in from out of town and they could not get OVER this small town. Americana. A butcher. A market next to the church. The pumpkins outside. Homecoming weekend up the road."

"New York?" Asked Dan and I said I believed so. Tall woman. Skinny. Impeccable. The husband--very sleek.

"Oh they couldn't have been nicer. Truly, TRULY the kindest. They couldn't have been happier to have found the butcher, the homemade coconut cream pies in the deli case, the handmade spices."

This--my America. The outlandish fern out front. The ridiculously gorgeous autumn leaves, the church bells. The "back parking lot" entrance to Mannino's that only the locales of locals know.

"Leave it to you," Dan said when I drove him there once, "to know the back entrance to Mannino's."

"Of course!" I smiled. It is my stock and trade. The secret paths. The code of the familiar.

"And, oh do I want to say Mama Mannino was putting on the dog! The family business. The fresh meats. The homemade pies! And they just kept
spending their New York money!"

And we laughed. Not out of malice--but there's a charm to the Midwest. And those pies ARE homemade (and delicious)...and that meat IS fresh (and gorgeous). And I think we know it. I think we own it. Maybe in a way that is a little audacious.

And here I was. After what felt like a week of full-moon-school-days behind me. Jeans day. Hair recess-blown.

But I think sometimes you see yourself--you see your life through other people's eyes. And it can be a gorgeous reminder of what is good in the world.

And, I tell you what? I couldn't be prouder. I couldn't have been prouder to saddle up to the counter, "What'cha need, hon?" and be part of their experience. A part of the tapestry of this impeccable place.

Let's go, Vikings!!!

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