Flashback story: I was working in Santa Monica, riding my cute beach cruiser the 12 minutes from my apartment door to work every day. I had recently ended my lease and given up four wheels for two, in order to save money and go green. After about a month of bike bliss, I was transferred (laterally) to work at the Beverly Hills store. I tried the bike to work thing and it was over 8 miles up hill on a 1 speedncruiser. I was a sweaty, hot mess upon arrival, exauhsted and grumpy. No thanks. Enter, adventures on the LA bus system.
So there I was one day at the bus stop, miserable, feeling bad for poor little me and being really snobby about riding a bus. Feeling shitty about my new life space, feeling annoyed that the bus was taking so long and even more frustrated that I had not been promoted, I had embarked on a full on ego rage, if you will. As I am waiting at the bus stop, this homeless woman in maroon sequins pants, an oversized white t-shirt on backwards and her shopping cart rolls up next to me. She smells something fierce and her eyes looked tired, yet curious. I peer down the road to avoid conversation, no bus. So she strikes up a convresation about water bottle treasures and fashion trends for a good amount of time. She asks me for money and I decline, being honest that the quarters I have are getting me to work. She understands. And then all of a sudden, she leans in real close and asks me if she can have a hug?
Up close and personal, the smell is suffocating and I somehow get out a yes and lean into her for a nice quick squeeze. She wraps one arm around me, as I realize the other arm doesn’t seem to be mobile. She doesn’t let go for a long time. She finally backs away and thanks me sincerely and the bus arrives. She waves as I hop on and we never cross paths again.
Looking back now, that woman in the maroon sequence pants with her shopping cart saved me that day.
She reminded me there is more to life than being shitty about a promotion that never was or a lengthy commute. She reminded me that the human embrace matters, all the time. She reminded me to get the hell over myself and make a choice to get back to living the great life that I have. Right now. She reminded me to smile and be grateful.
From meeting that woman, I actually started my first blog called Snob on a Bus, tracking my life adventures and chance meetings on the city bus system in Los Angeles. I committed to the Beverly Hills team and evolved as a leader and human being. Go figure, I was promoted shortly thereafter. I was featured on the front page of the LA Times for said blog and became a writer. And somehow, in this short time frame, I fell in love with my boyfriend and created a beautiful life.
So perhaps, this is my thank you, dear sequins-wearing bag lady at the bus stop on Lincoln and Ocean Park. Thank you for the bold request you made in a hug. Thank you for holding on a bit longer and hugging me into a life check. Thank you for reminding me to get over myself, and re-commit to this life and stop being angry about the yesterdays.
I say, get real today, get into the now and be in wonder about what might be right around the corner for you. Take a minute to get present and hug someone.
Go find your bag lady and make a choice.