The little square of paper tore as the Girl held it between her fingers. She purposefully walked to the center garbage can to be closer, pulled out the tiny swipe of alcohol and began rubbing her fingers with it.
I love your skirt, the Lady had said.
Something had pulled at the Girl. She had seen it in the stranger’s demeanor, her expression. Somehow she knew.
The opening was made. Chitchat. The Girl smiled and the kindness in the Lady’s eyes held hers and she shared her heart.
She shared why she was there. At the gas station. The emotion, the sadness, the overwhelming longing and mystery of discovering Why and When and How and WHY. The Girl, was alone.
The Lady was alone. There was kindness. Content. No, peace.
Do you want to have dinner with me? The Girl asked.
Okay. I’ll follow you. The Lady weighted.
The Girl, not knowing the area, drove here and there searching for a place. All the while, the Lady stayed just behind her.
Thoughts came and went, doubts, scenarios, questions until finally, the Girl found a place in an old hotel that was perfect.
They entered together and kind music carried them to the corner table. The Singer was gentle and sweet and his acoustic guitar soothed the empty bar.
After the Girl unloaded her emotional tirade of self discovery and frustration, the Lady shared her life.
70’s. Alone. 4 sons, 9 grandchildren, top Special Ed teacher in the state. The Lady told stories of her experience as a teacher. Her job was one of the highest drop out jobs, and yet here she was in her 70’s still teaching.
Compassion, tenderness, love. These, she said, were what she gave her students success. The Lady worked with severely emotionally traumatized children and rehabilitated them to be able to attend schools and grow up to have a relatively normal life. How she got through to them was compassion and being able to see to the heart of the child.
She spoke of a tall and very large Boy who had Autism, and wouldn’t do anything. Everyone was afraid of the Boy who, she described as resembling the Pillsbury Dough boy, would scream and throw tantrums and not do anything but stand off to the side, alone.
One day she went over and poked him.
He said, Why did you poke me?
Because I wanted to. She replied.
This went on for days and weeks. It became a game and before long, the Lady and the Boy were dodging each other so much, they were jumping.
Look! We are Dancing! The Lady said.
The Boy with size 16 shoes laughed and began dancing with her.
I’m Dancing! I’m Dancing! I can Dance!! The Boy exclaimed.
After that, the Boy was happy to be at school, be part of the class. That love and compassion shown him, made all the difference.
The Lady impressed on the Girl, No matter what you do in life, make time for compassion and love, for it is the language we all understand.
The Girl and the Lady walked away as friends with a shared understanding of love for others and at the same time, love for themselves.
The Singer, watched the two ladies who knew each other a long time. His voice followed them out as he sang his closing song, California Dreamin’.