Monday, January 4, 2010

A Different Level of Beauty

So today on the bus....
visual: Cozy and warm in my very bright and favorite lululemon athletica avocado green jacket with the brightest of blue hip pants topped with an orange-red tank is my outfit today. Hair pinned back in quite a mess and tapping my green and navy blue Nikes, I wait for the bus.
The sun sneaks slowly into sight to wish me a very early 'Good Morning' as I speed walk towards Wilshire Boulevard. Damn, there it goes! My beloved Rapid 720 bus rushes right across the intersection as I am about two minutes too late to make that one! Just two blocks from the bus stop. It is almost mean when I can see it pick everyone up as I am stuck at the crosswalk.
I take the just-missed-the-bus opportunity to fill my sustainable coffee cup with a convenient cup of coffee from the 711 store behind my stop. I apologize to the man asking for change clad in a yellow button down and dark jeans leaning near his belongings and asking for money right at the entrance. Spare change is my means of transportation!
Anyways, so, I got a new sustainable mug from The Paper Source in Beverly Hills last week. It is really snazzy! It is all porcelain and actually looks just like a paper Starbucks to-go coffee cup - yet mine is eco-friendly AND reusable! (see image). I fill it up with a bold blend and two amaretto creams and head back out to my stop. I had somehow got the urge to pull out a dollar for my friend at the entrance, but he was not standing there. His loss.

As I am enjoying my warm cup of java, the man from the 711 entrance must of felt my kindness energy and comes up behind me and almost startles me. He waves a crisp dollar bill around and asks if I have change. Smart man - of course I have change, I am a bus rider! I explain that I do not have enough for both me and him to get to and from work. I smile and then glance for my bus that is nowhere in sight. I question the snobby snub I could give him right now, or I could speak with him and be the possibility of love for another human being. He looks me up and down and comments on my bright clothing, "Damn girl, you have a lot of colors on! You look very nice." I thank him, give him that chance, and share with him that I rarely wear black and colors just seem more fun. He chuckles and I see that he is missing his front four teeth. Somehow, it makes the smile better! He leans against the bus post behind me and continues the up and down looks. I smile, disregarding the degradation...maybe he enjoys the clothing design or color combination, I tell myself in a search-for-a-positive type of thinking. I tell him that the yellow button down is a nice look for him. He smiles, making actual eye contact and opens up a bit.
We embark in conversation and talk about the holidays that had recently passed and wish one another a happy new year. He had been "here, there and everywhere" for the holidays. I respond, "me too!". He went to Downtown LA and also had dinner at the Civic Center in Santa Monica, said he had a real nice time. I shared about my Grandma's house and New Year's Eve parties. His "here,there and everywhere" were a bit different than mine. But that really didn't matter - just sharing holiday love. We finally introduce ourselves, Anthony is his name. He asks where I am going and I think to myself that he might actually ride with me as I inform him that my place of work was in Beverly Hills at lululemon athletica. He assures me that he hangs out in the area often and maybe our paths will cross again, but not today. I smile. One more up and down look and he shares, "You sure are pretty". I tell him that it must be the colors, they make me so happy! He laughs and we bid one other good bye as he walks back to his post by the entrance at the 711.

Just a note, I do not know the stigma I have about homeless people. I always feel a very specific and combined feeling of guilt, fear and danger that I ultimately have to get over. Why is that an automatic response? Anthony - although I could have done without the up and down looks - was a very kind, energetic and talkative man. Just probably wanted an authentic conversation with someone who smiled back, teeth or no teeth.
My interaction with him triggers a conversation this past week; I write for LA Yoga Magazine and I had interviewed a gentleman from Santa Barbara, Anthony Carroccio. (Weird, his name was Anthony, too). He is the founder of Organic Soup Kitchen, serving organic and wholesome meals for individuals and families in need ( Only in California, I think to myself, is there an organic soup kitchen. As I am talking to him over the phone and just eating up his East Coast accent, he informs me of something all too relative. He shares, "You know, these people I talk to and serve food to, they are no different from you and me. They are smart and wonderful and very talented. They just hit a bump along the road somewhere. Really, just the same as you and me...". I think about this statement as I had just shared an authentic connection with my bus stop Anthony with his four missing teeth and life outside of 711 Convenient Store. He is a human being, just like me. We can communicate and share seven minutes of our lives with one another while I wait for my bus.
No fear.
No danger.
No guilt.
Just love. And my heart opens a bit in this realization.

My bus finally arrives and I jump on with this new way of thinking. Not too many passengers on the bus when the sun is waking up, so I sit in front and think about social stereotypes; a common theme as of late.
A few stop along the way a nice gentlemen sits down across from me with his messenger bag and black leather coat. He has the smile and this we are going to have a conversation look in his eyes, which I wonder if that is exactly how I look every day on the bus. Talk to me! Inspire me! Somebody!
So, I say hello and he smiles and say hi back. And he jumps into all sorts of questions. Where I work, where I am from and how very bright my outfit is. He speaks very quickly and tells me of his past, his days in my home state of Texas, how he works for a gas and energy firm in Beverly Hills, and that he is happy with his life in LA. His name is Lonnie and we shake hands from across the bus. I think, what a cool picture if captured. The photos could be called "Authentic Connection in Transit". I digress with a burst of creativity. So, as we shake, I lean across the aisle, look him in the eyes and tell him it is a pleasure to talk with him. And then, he tells me how pretty I look today!
I mean, I must have done something different with my hair. Did I put on eyeliner today? This early? Not possible. I smile and thank him.
I recall an interview with Drew Barrymore I read in People Magazine when I was younger. One that I truly believe and one that I have never forgotten:
"I just think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness. If somebody walks in the room and they're drop-dead gorgeous and sexy, it's really fun to look at. But if someone is giving of their spirit and they make you laugh and feel good, that's a whole other level of beauty. " (People, Vol. 67, No. 18)
Thus, I inform dear Lonnie, " I am just happy. Happy people are beautiful. You are beautiful!". He looks at me a little strange. Oh, did I got too deep, am I the uber happy, intense girl on the bus that smiles too much"? He chuckles and agrees. I nod and pull my tab for my departure. I wish his beautiful, happy face well and thank my bus driver.

A little hop in my step as Anthony and Lonnie had just made my day, I feel truly beautiful walking across the street to work! And, I thought I was having a really bad hair day. I mean, I knew the outfit was a bit loud. And man, was I tired being up before the sun! But none of that matters, I became a mirror and reflected my authentic happiness. Just as my dudes did off and on the bus today!
An authentic connection.
Happiness shared.
Make someone laugh. Smile. Choose happiness. Be that whole other level of beauty today!

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