The other day I rummaged around in the drawer of my nightstand to find my glasses repair kit. Success! There it was with its neon yellow price sticker proclaiming it had cost me £1.99. Printed on the price sticker is also the name of the shop in which I bought the kit: Ali’s Cave. In Edinburgh.
I had been walking down the sidewalk near our lodgings (eight nights in Edinburgh in 2017!), took off my glasses to wipe them (no doubt because of mist or drizzle or rain), and found the right side piece (correctly called the “temple”) came off in my hands.
This is exactly what you DON’T want to have happen when you’ve been away from home for only a week and you have more than three months to go!
I made my way to Boots (a super-drugstore, “Boots runs” take the place of Target runs when I’m in the UK) to see if they sold such a thing as an eye glass repair kit. They surprisingly did not. Boots hardly ever lets me down. But the helpful clerk suggested a store a couple of blocks away called Ali’s Cave. “They have EVERYTHING!”she added.
As soon as I entered Ali’s Cave, I knew she was right. The store reminded me so much of a store where I lived in New Jersey – Grand Variety. And it was. Ali’s Cave refers, I guess to the cave of treasure in “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” I also think the proprietor was named Ali. Ali was very helpful and showed me past aisles of pillows, duvets, birthday cards, helpful gadgets seen only on TV, tasteful gifts for your elderly aunt, tools, computer accessories, right to the teeny glasses repair kit!
Ali’s Cave truly held treasure for me! What would I have done without being able to repair my glasses so quickly and easily? Scotland doesn’t have eyeglass stores every few blocks like many commercial areas in the US. Also, this annoying feature of my brand new glasses has been an ongoing problem so I have become quite adept at turning the itsy bitsy screw that connects the temple to the eyepiece.
I am currently reading “Transit” by Rachel Cusk. This quote caught my attention: “…these trips away from home sometimes proved to be staging posts, even if she didn’t see it at the time. They gave her a distance on her own life: it became something she could see, instead of being immersed in it as she usually was…” As I look at my life with some distance that travel has given me, I realize how important a community is. I am more aware and more appreciative of all the people who make up my community – the checkers and baggers at the grocery, the workers at Target who do try to help me find something, the neighbor who has a helpful suggestion, the librarians at our public library. Every day people, sharing my neighborhood – all of us trying to help each other get through life.
Right now, someone in the Lauriston Gardens neighborhood of Edinburgh is entering Ali’s Cave, being helped, finding what he or she needs, smiling, heading out….All over the world, small acts of kindness and help.