I want to heal the world. What the hell is wrong with me. Here I am broke and broken and this young clerk at Macy’s looks at me, almost expectantly after ringing up my purchaee, a Kenneth Cole swim-suit on sale that I could never afford if she hadn’t given me an additional discount because I haven’t worked in three years, and probably won’t wear right away until I drop seven more pounds, and certainly don’t need because I have two others at home, but she tells me she’s tired too when she hears me yawn, and then tells me she’s working two jobs, and is recently divorced and making it all on her own raising her three children alone. All I did was comment on the beautiful bracelet she was wearing. It was black and studded with rhinestones that dangled on small delicate chains shaped like feathers of some mystical bird and caught the light. There was a matching one on her other wrist. She said a friend had given her them, not her husband, parent or sibling, a friend. So I jumped to a logical conclusion and thought she was gay. She assured me, after a moment, that she was not and looked away. She looked about thirty something, young, blond and pretty, no lines on her face that would have suggested she was that age so i told her she looked twenty-nine. She told me she was thirty three. She looked skinny and flat chested under her black smock, and her brown eyes were shadowed with worry and looked at me wanting and I wondered what for. What could I do? What could I say that could satisfy her yearning for answers that evaded me, after three broken relationships, a lonely, broken old-maid, and more years than I’d care to tell her, having moved back in her mother’s guest room trying to sort out the ruins of my own life, but she needed me to. I confessed my own lowly situation revealing my vulnerability and lack of credentials as an advisor to a young woman working two jobs after a divorce and with three kids waiting for her at home, the oldest was thirteen the youngest was twelve, both boys, the middle child’s sex and age though in between was unknown, but her eyes still held me, a window had opened and I saw her raw soul. I knew she cried when she went home at night and was all alone, after she fed her children, read to the youngest and tucked him in, then went back to clean the kitchen, pick up the living room and slink off to the bath. Her tears were like lightening silent and fast, clinging to her cheeks and stinging moments before sleep. She wanted me to say something, anything that might give her hope. I don’t know why she saw me as her savant, a reflection of her future, broke and alone and wanted to know if she would be alright. I asked her: what is it you always wanted to do with your life? She told me: a mother, a stay-at-home-mom. That’s when I told her I had children too, and like her I wanted to make it on my own, wanted to prove to the world and myself I could do it but I couldn’t and I needed help. I needed a friend to listen to my troubles, someone who shared the same history and similar dreams. I explained that sometime we all need help, that I moved in with my mom, and accepted her charity, kindness and counsel. I now, late in life, realized it did not mean I was weak, just in between strength and ambition and needed a rest. Her eyes didn’t waver. They held onto mine and she continued to stare at me still wanting. Get an education I told her, it’s the only way to secure your future but I admitted that even with a JD, and MFA, I was still unemployed. Take a class at a nearby college, go to night school to meet other people her own age. People who could identify with her, other women who knew what she’s going through and commiserate. She kept looking at me waiting for more. I told her to love herself, that she’s beautiful–she stopped me–do you really think so? She asked. It surprised me. Yes, I said, absolutely. She smiled for the first time. Not a big beaming grin but a little one, almost unnoticeable if I hadn’t been looking. You already accomplished your dream, she was like me that way I supposed, then I said: Now you need to re-plan and move on. She looked at me puzzled. You’re already a mother, and a good one I can see, but you need to see yourself at forty, just ten years from now and your kids all leave. Her eyes widened. I was reaching something inside of her, touching that place she hid from everyone but for some reason, God only knows, she hid from everyone except me. Picture yourself ten years from now and plan accordingly. Take whatever help you can and do this for you. Your whole life has been dedicated to pleasing someone else, your children, your parents, your significant other or husband or whatever is applicable–husband she assures me–and you need to forgive yourself. None of what’s happened is all your fault but you blame yourself, I know, because we all do, it’s in our nature as women, but you need to do this, and love yourself to. Her eyes watered. You’re beautiful, I reminded her, and meant it. I wanted to keep talking but something told me I’d said enough. She had to keep working, and thinking about her future, the one I just gave her, and me. I left her standing there still looking at me or where I had been, and left her to her own decisions, like a friend.