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.

Don’t lose faith in people – 733 Transit Unlimited (a re-post from @MixStirShake)

Below is a post written by the great and wonderful @MixStirShake that I have been lax in re-posting.  It is one of my most fond memories of her trip to Los Angeles for my birthday last year, which, for those who don’t know me personally, was a surprise.  The day she arrived I was in a rather sour mood after having run around all of DTLA for hours trying to get work done when I got a call about a birthday lunch.  “Fine, I’ll go, but I’m tired and I might smell a little, because I was running to catch people before they left their offices.”  When I walked into Wokcano, which seems to be our standard birthday lunch spot these days, I saw my roommate and another friend when I was expecting only coworkers.  Though confused, I let it go.  A few minutes later there was a small ruckus and my roommate had pulled out a little video camera.  The first few seconds on that camera you can see me look at her briefly, put my hand in front of the lens and ask “why did you bring that?”  A few seconds later @MixStirShake walked into the room having arrived that morning from NYC.  Yes, my reaction of shock, surprise and utter joy was all caught on video and has been memorialized forever on the grand interwebs.  As part of @MixStirShake’s surprise trip, we traveled to Santa Monica by bus.  Below is the story of what took place.  It is actually one of my favorite bus stories of all time, because I remember this girl very clearly with the tears in her eyes and complete exhaustion in her voice when she asked for a little help.  It also happened on my always favorite Rapid Transit 733.  Strangers helping strangers is a good thing.

733 – Transit Unlimited by @MixStirShake

One of my hostesses-with-the-mostessesss out here in LA is none other that blogger @Flat_Footed_LA of Is That A Pedestrian? fame. She writes about surviving DTLA & environs without a car. That’s right WITHOUT a car.

I took two bus adventures with her: one to Culver City and one from Santa Monica Blvd on the mighty 733. The 733 was a trip to be remembered. In addition to handling some bar-staffing drama back east in NYC, I had a great interaction with some lovely Los Angelenos.

For the first half of the ride, the bus was pretty packed. There was a hilariously flirtatious toddler who was all about Ms. Flat-Footed. We laughed with his family about what a “shy” kid they had on their hands. Like most journeys on public transport, flashes of friendliness were countered by boredom, fatigue, and general zoning out.

We were standing in the center of the crowded bus. The young woman next to me was maybe 17 years old. She was talking on her phone and then all the sudden… she wasn’t. Visibly frustrated, she threw her phone into her handbag and sighed. I smiled at her, as if to say, “Bummer.” She smiled back. As if to say, “Yeah.”  There was a short pause. I looked away. Then, I felt a tap on my arm. The young lady said, “Excuse me, Miss. Can I borrow your phone? Mine just died.”

I gave here my phone. Sure, she could have hopped off the bus at the next stop but I trusted her face. She sent her mother a text message and handed me back my phone. A few minutes later, my phone rang. It wasn’t for me. I handed the young woman the phone and she explained to her mother where she was getting off the bus and what time she would be home.

My friend and I were on the bus a good half hour after the young woman got off. During that time I got a couple of nice text message myself. The first one wasn’t for me: “That’s not safe, no phone!” The second one was: “Thank you nice lady.” As far as I’m concerned, there are a whole lot of nice ladies in this story.

Don’t lose faith in people, people.