From Tears to Thanksgiving Cheers

I was talking to my roommate once about relationships and city living awhile back.  It’s an interesting dynamic to live and work in the same five mile radius, because everything you know and everything you experience is walking distance away.  But when things go wrong, something’s gotta give a little.  We were talking about how far you are pushed before your personal life becomes public knowledge, because all of a sudden you’re standing on a street corner releasing anger and pent up emotions that have very little to do with the current situation and a great deal to do with the overall big picture relationship.  She’s done it once.

I can now claim the same statistic.

It was late Monday night.  Plans I thought were set weren’t in the end and the slow boil began to happen.  Mistake number one was not going home and agreeing to meet out in DTLA instead.  Mistake number two was not simply saying I’m upset because of X, and so let’s get that out of the way.  Mistake number three was incorporating a couple of beers into the equation.  The result?  A little street argument somewhere between 6th and 7th along Spring St.

I think I had an out of body experience on this one, though.  It was one of those moments where my head kept saying “stop this…this isn’t healthy or productive…let’s just take a step away and part for a little while before someone says something they will regret.”  Unfortunately, my heated Latina ways had control at the time, and so it was on.

In the middle of our argument, a man in a wheelchair came over and said hi.  I thought it odd simply because he approached two people who were obviously very unhappy with each other and in the middle of something fairly personal in nature.  However, the man smiled brightly and said, “So, have you been invited somewhere for Thanksgiving dinner yet?”  We both said yes, thank you, and tried to end the conversation there.  But the man persisted.  “Here, there’s this event in Santa Monica on Thursday you should come to if you don’t have plans.  It will be fun.  Plus, Santa Monica has changed a lot over the years.  They’re a lot nicer out there now.”

I took the flyer from him.  We thanked him and went on our way down the street a little.  While I’m not sure that conversational diversion was what eventually ended our argument and prompted us to put our differences aside for a little while or not, it was a nice little reminder for a moment that maybe things aren’t as extreme as they feel.

A hug can go a long way...

Today I finally looked at the flyer I put in my jacket pocket that night.  “Hug with Me” is the program being hosted by United Steps, which is a non-profit organization “that is changing the world” and “offers time, encouragement, and respect as solutions to ending homelessness.”  They are offering 2,000 hugs “to the people on the streets” as a reminder of “how a simple hug from a stranger can elicit hope, inspiration, and comfort.”  It’s a beautiful thought that something so simple as showing another person respect and understanding can go a long way.

It also reminded me that maybe I need to step back and remember how lucky I am that I have a roof over my head, food on my table, friends who love me, and even someone I care enough about to get angry at from time to time and who still makes me smile when I’m in the throes of an unnecessary battle of wills.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  No matter what has happened over this year or the last, I know that I have a lot to be thankful for.  With that I send love and Thanksgiving cheer to all of my friends, family, and loved ones as we keep going along in this life together trying to find our way.  I am thankful that I have so many wonderful people by my side willing and trying to help me through every struggle and experiencing every joy this life has to offer.

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

And I come full circle.

It happens every day on the DTLA streets.  You are walking down Broadway or around Pershing Square and there is someone having a very intense and sometimes rather boisterous conversation…with themselves.  Those are the people that I generally avoid.  Not because I’m afraid of them, but because you never want to be too close just in case.  Self-preservation.

In fact, it happened this very morning.  I was walking along my normal route between home and office when someone was having a fairly serious debate with themselves.  It took me a few moments to realize that person was me.

Yes, on this very day, DTLA has finally caught up to me. It is true that generally I have a running dialogue going on in my head about the day’s tasks, work that needs to be done, or thinking through whatever shenanigans I found myself involved in the night before. But it seems with several topics and necessary decisions to be made, my mind was overflowing with confused and jumbled thoughts that made no sense at all and required some serious sorting.  Unfortunately, that sorting took place on the streets of the city and in earshot of many of my fellow pedestrians.

Well, my dear DTLA, you have finally and wholeheartedly won me over.  Now I may never be able to leave…

With a little help from my friends…

I’ve been rather busy over the past couple of months.  Not busy with work or travel, but trying to keep up with changing schedules and changing routines.  While I’ve had a lot of fun, a bit of drama, and some heartbreak, I’ve also experienced a lot more of DTLA and beyond.  My more recent experiences made me a true believer in fate, destiny and signs from above.

As some of you know, or have seen me write about in the past, my dad passed away July 2010.  Before that, in June 2010, I lost a mentor – a guy larger than life who gave me direction when I was a wee baby of 23 and believed in my abilities far beyond anything I saw possible for myself.  Suffice it to say, losing two of the people I relied on and trusted most in this world left me a little lost.  Who was going to give me advice about what to do next?  Who would be there when I needed help and support in the future?

More than a year has passed and I still find myself asking my dad and my mentor questions, but I was always hit with silence in return.  What was I expecting to hear, right?  I’m just some girl shouting at the sky asking for a sign.

Then I took a trip to Coffee Bean on 5thand Grand with a very good friend.  We were talking while waiting for our caffeinated beverages when a woman turned around and said

Which way?!

to my friend, “You’re a very attractive man.”  My friend blushed from head to toe.  “You have a good soul and aura surrounding you,” she continued.  My friend seemed a little taken aback by the statements, so I stepped in and said, “he is a good soul, that’s why I keep him around.”  The conversation progressed to include her experiences in the Vietnam War, her beliefs in the cycles from life to death and back, and finally an edict to me to do yoga every day.  I asked if she could tell I was stressed out.  She said, “honey, I am 68 years old and I’ve learned that yoga every day eases the mind and the soul.”  I’m sorry to say I have not taken this advice yet.

I left the Coffee Bean thinking I was really happy I met this woman.

A week later I was making one of my regular trips to Culver City to see my roommate and other friends at a restaurant there.  I make it a point to go visit on Sundays when the patron traffic is low and I can sit at the corner of the bar while people rotate in to talk.  I was running late leaving my apartment and missed the first Rapid Transit 733 heading west.  I decided not to grab the local connection opting to wait on the next Rapid Transit thinking I could get there faster.  When I got onto the 733, I took a seat near the back.  Three stops later, who gets on but the same woman I met in Coffee Bean.  I thought “what a small world we are both on the same bus.”  Forty-five minutes later my stop was approaching.  Someone else already pulled the chord to light the “Stop Requested” sign, so I sat quietly and waited.  When the doors opened, I headed to the exit only to see that this woman was exiting the bus too.  As we got off I smiled and said, “Have a good night.”  She smiled and said, “Why you have a blessed night, too.”

A week after that, things happened that had me asking my dad and mentor for some guidance.  It was the Thursday before Halloween.  It began as any other day but ended in emotional upheaval.  So Saturday I did the only thing I thought I could do.  LAX CarShare became my escape hatch and I decided to leave DTLA for a while.

I was crossing the light at Broadway and 5th heading to Pershing Square to pick up the car when I saw the woman again.  We both looked at each other and stopped.  “I’ve seen you before many times, haven’t I,” she said.  I smiled and looked down at my feet, “Yes, in fact this is the third time we’ve run into each other.”  “You were on the bus to Culver City, weren’t you,” she asked.  “Oh yes, that was me,” I responded.  She laughed a little and said “that night I wanted to turn around and tell you how lovely you are.  You have this ability to make people feel welcome and safe, did you know that?”  “No, I mean I try to be friendly, but I’ve never thought of it that way,” I said.  “Why do you do that?  Why are you so amiable?” she asked.  “I guess if my options are to ignore you and be rude or say hello, I’m going to say hello.  You never know who you’ll meet or what they will be in your life if you are closed off all the time,” I said.

Feeling a little ridiculous that I was having this conversation with a stranger I made a move to leave, but she held strong.  She gave me her name and I gave her mine.  We stood there for a long time talking about spirituality and life.

Then she said something that left me speechless.  “I have something to tell you, no I have something I have to tell you.”  Initially, I was a little wary.  But then she continued, “Do you know what happens in relationships between men and women?  Their physical attractions bring them together and create a connection.  Eventually people think it’s a strong bond or even love, but it’s just an attachment to the other person.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But, do you know what the opposite of attachment is for you right now?  Pain.  You are going to feel pain.  But don’t worry you’re not alone.  There are people surrounding you who love you.  I know you don’t see them right now, but they are there.”

I thanked her for her words and said I really had to go.  I told her I looked forward to the next time we would run into each other.  I haven’t seen her since that day.

Why do I believe in fate, destiny and signs from above?  Because I got one.

Thanks for the message.