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being nessasary

a quirky look into being

Tag Archives: strangers

I have a bit of a fascination with strangers and the strange.  I like talking to people I don’t know and will not know very long.  It is a great exercise in “putting yourself in an other person’s shoes.”  Making friendly conversation at bus stops and studying the faces  of those receiving pedicures makes an otherwise habitual experience different every single time.

There is one stranger that has a very special spot in my heart:  The Dancing Man.  After an absence of several months, Dancing Man returned to the Indianapolis intersection of 34th and College this New Year.  I first took notice of the definitive bounce in his step this past spring.  I initially thought he was just passing the time while waiting for the bus, but as my work day drives became more consistent, I noticed he would position himself at any of the intersection’s four street corners.  His rhythm never changed and his smile swayed like the streetlights.  He once positioned himself on the southwest corner where there happens to be a Rally’s.  He was boogalooing to his heart’s beat while hoisting a double cheese burger above his head like a prized trophy (I am sure it tasted much better than a metallic dust collector).

I have smiled and waved at this man countless times – once even spilling coffee all over myself to ecstatically greet him while  rolling by.  Most times he sees me, gives a special smile and amps his dance up a level.  He gives me a large bite of happy each time I pass his dance floor.

I haven’t the slightest clue as to why he boogies.  I really do not wish to study it.

One “dance” quote has become particularly irritating to me.  I’m not implying that it doesn’t provide the reader with warm and hopeful feelings, but because it more or less seems like a REASON to dance:

“Work like you don’t need the money, love like your heart has never been broken, and dance like no one is watching” -Aurora Greenway

It is also EXTREMELY overused.  I am happy not knowing why The Dancing Man dances.  He just does.  Maybe he’s nuts, maybe he dances for his God or Gods, perhaps he just feels the rhythm of the planet.  I do not care unless he tries tells me.  It is just fun to experience his energy.  I know that others feel it too:  I once saw two young men grooving alongside him.

I tip my hat to you, Mr. Dancing Man.  I love you without even knowing you.

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Chicago is being hammered with snow, ice, and its infamous gusts.  I am on my journey home, and am not really thinking about how my bus was delayed because of said weather or the fact that my new UGGs are prematurely aging.  My heart is focused on a wheelchair-bound woman.  She lacked the bottom half of her left leg, but her spirit – that was completely intact.

She initially chatted up my boyfriend as we waited at a bus stop. Finding refuge in a used bookshop’s storefront, we huddled close to hear the lady talk about the weather, and her keen ability to use swears (swears that no one’s daddy can even imagine, she said).  She won me over right then – I knew she was the kind of crazy I relate to.  After all, you have to be a little nuts if you’re disabled, and as I came to find out, sick.  I gathered that she was around seventy years old, having been born and raised on the streets of the Chicago.

We got a good taste of what her life was like.  I could tell she was into her God and the holiday season.  She couldn’t be too poor off considering she was dressed well, didn’t have an odor of any kind, and she lacked that stressed, sad look that some folks have when life has them down (or maybe she was crazier than I perceived).

Conversation flitted from topic to topic until I saw the bus through the falling frosty air.  She rolled herself onto the sidewalk while I made sure the bus stopped for us (we had attempted to catch an earlier bus, but it blew past us as if we were yellow snowmen).  When it stopped, the personality who had delighted my boyfriend and I with several laughs and smiles, paused.  She could not move herself over the icy mound obscuring the street curb.

I know stubborn.  Yet, with all my health issues these past few years, I have learned when to accept help.  This woman was on that page with me, though I am most certain she got there much sooner than I.  She lived independently, yet knew when to accept my offer to push her forward.  Thankfully, when the tread on my boots didn’t allow me the traction to push her forward without the terror of spilling her into the gutter, I asked my kindly escort to step in.  He pushed her over the threat, and helped her up the bus’ wheelchair ramp.  It was quite the feat considering she asked the crowed bus to give the driver and us nice white folk a round of applause.

The passengers were a bit confused by her merry behavior, but it did not seem to faze her.  We stood behind her as the bus did its business.  I noticed her fidgeting with a long pink ribbon on the handle of her wheelchair.

I’m a nosey cancer survivor.  I ask when I sense another troop.  She smiled up at me and questioned how I knew.  I pointed at the ribbon and smiled while saying, “I’m one too!”  She didn’t do the whole, “Baby you’re to young,” speech.  She grabbed my hand in the most congratulatory manner I have ever felt (forget those two graduations I have gone through) and said, “We are survivors! We are here to prove things can be done!”  If we weren’t on a crowded, slippery bus, I would have hugged the lady.  What a woman.

She continued on to talk about my dimple, and how she wanted one when she was little.  She used to stick her fingers in her cheeks hoping the dent would stay.  When she asked her mother where dimples came from, she replied, “They came from angel kisses.” Like all curious children, there was a second question along the lines of, “Well, then how come you have them and I don’t?”  Her mother playfully answered, “Well, God just must love me more.”  She laughed.

As my boyfriend and I prepared to get off the bus she wished us a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We returned the well wishes.  But after reflecting upon this woman, I demand that she is Happy and Merry.

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