Sunday, November 22, 2009

Men On Wheels, Part II

Part II

So today on the bus...

visual: Same hot pink lululemon cozy fleece pullover, full length spandex pants, green and navy Nikes, purple backpack, bright ocean blue headband, disheveled Princess Leah buns after a long day at lululemon 90210, rocking out to my lime green iPod shuffle. I wait on Wilshire Blvd to head home.

I step up to the 720 bus, thank my younger and almost handsome bus driver (if he would isknay the black leather bus-driving gloves), ready to roll from Beverly Hills to my cozy apartment in Bretnwood to get my workout on. Not many on the bus to engage with, so I continue to rock to my iPod.

I smile the whole bus ride home. I had a really great day at work. Beautiful weather. The holidays are here. I'm just beaming. And on the weekends, there is less traffic so my bus is FLYING back to my neighborhood. I'll be there in no time. Sing on about Heaven, Brett Dennen, sing on!

Well, that was short lived. Still rocking to my headphones, I am startled when I see everyone departing. I don't know how I do it, but I seemed to have jumped on the bus that stopped short....again! GREAT! I have to walk the rest of the way home....again. My young bus driver is not so cute anymore! I force myself to stay in good spirits from my great day. I knew I had charged my iPod last night for a reason, so I could speed walk all the way home to Aretha Franklin, MGMT and John Mellencamp shuffling in my ears. I deemed it a warm up to my upcoming workout.

As I walked under the freeway and up the hills, I thought, "nope, there is something more". Why am I walking home as all my buses continue to fly past me? How did I really get on that bus that needs a break AGAIN? I was really appreciating the bus speeding on its way and now this?

And then, there he is.

I turn the corner outside the Veterans Center to a an all out old soldier gathering to protest for the land gated behind us. Sitting in his motorized wheelchair waving an American Flag is an World War II veteran, Stephen. I smile, stop next to him and remove my headphones. He takes my hand and asks my name, shaking the held hand profusely. He is covered in crumblies down the front of him - I am guessing from his recent lunch and/or snack, and he is modeling these amazing old-man-version of hip and cool aviators.

I engage in conversation with him. Asking about the protest and letting him have some of my beautiful time. He shared that they were fighting for the land to be a center for the Veterans and homeless in the city. He shared that he had fought in WWII, the politics in the administrative system over the land, and that they were getting close to winning the good fight. You know old people, they go on forever. Which I love.

Cars passing us were honking to help protest and he waved that American flag every time from his chair.

As our conversation began to end, he thanked me time and time again for stopping to talk to him. He then asked me for a hug. As if I could resist, I leaned down to his chair and wrapped my long, fleece covered arms around his older body and wheelchair holding him upright. Heart to heart.

Stephen asks me mid-hug, "Am I allowed?"

Not knowing what he meant or if he was just politely reinstating the hug permission, I say sure. His face turns and he kisses my cheek and gives me a squeeze. I smile and let go. Tap his shoulder, thank him and continue to walk home....enlightend again today.

See, I knew there was a reason that damn bus stopped short making me walk that extra mile. And I knew better! It wasn't for any cardio burn.

So Part II of my day is really a testament to Part I with dude Jared in his wheelchair begging not for my money, but for my time and friendly conversation. Putting into practice what I had learned that morning at my first bus stop, I gave that precious time and conversation to Stephen on the walk home when the bus stopped short. No judgement. No annoyance. No fear of begging or financial support for the cause. Just love.

And it was really, really beautiful.

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