Concrete Moses

January 22, 2012

Yesterday, I watched a man walking the sidewalk outside the courthouse. He was draped in white from shoulders to sandaled feet and was apparently dispossessed of a coat to protect him from the biting January winds that whipped through the caverns of tall, city buildings that surrounded him. A modest length of golden tinsel, probably the treasured result of rummaged trashcans and dumpsters, encircled his head like a crown. He carried a wooden staff in his right hand that he held out before him like Moses parting the sea of people elbowing their way to other places; they were people who knew things, busy people with agendas who dressed in suits and designer clothes, who scurried into buildings, who carried briefcases in and out of meetings and who frequently glanced down at their watches in the middle of conversations. He was not one of them. No.

I stood secure inside the warmth of the building and watched him as he almost glided upon the concrete, wingless and smiling. For some reason still unknown to me, I knocked on the window to get his attention. He paused and turned toward me, then in a graceful and kingly gesture, raised his staff in recognition of my presence. We smiled at each other, and then he slowly turned from me to continue his endless journey among the city streets. This was his kingdom. He owned it; it didn’t own him. He owned it because he asked nothing from it and needed nothing from it. Then, separated only by the plate glass windows that ran the length of the façade, I walked with him down the street until I couldn’t any more.  An overwhelming sadness overtook me as he disappeared from view. I wanted to run to him and ask him why he didn’t appear cold, although the Fahrenheit approached freezing.  I wanted to ask him if he’d ever been in love or had children. I wanted to know where he got his meals and what he thought about when he woke each morning. I wanted to ask him if he still had unfulfilled dreams tucked warmly into the corners of his heart, like me.

I didn’t.

Instead, I pushed the button on the wall and waited for the elevator bell to signal its arrival on the ground floor where I stood sipping my Starbucks. Once inside, I pushed the button for the third floor where the people who know things work; busy people with agendas who wear suits and designer clothes, people who carry briefcases in and out of meetings and who frequently glance down at their watches in the middle of conversations…

Angels in Subarus

December 22, 2011

There’s a famous line in the Christmas movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ staring Jimmy Stewart, that says, “Every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets its wings.” When I first heard that line decades ago, it made me pause. Implicit in that statement is the question, “How did angels get from place to place before they had wings?” If they used their celestial minds to transport them here and there, why the need for wings to begin with? It wasn’t making much sense to me. Recently, I had an awakening of sorts and solved this angelic transportation conundrum: Angels drive Subarus. I know this because my friend Linda drives a Subaru.

Linda has been my dearest friend since 5th grade when, still vaguely smelling of manure from my morning stable cleaning routine, I stood up during ‘show and tell’ class clutching a horse’s bridle and reins. It was friendship at first sight. Horse people are a different breed; pun intended and embraced. Finding another horseperson, especially during the hormonal storms of adolescence, can be a saving grace at a time when peer pressure tends to squeeze prudent decision making processes from our brains like toothpaste from a tube and leaves us virtually immune to adult guidance. You have to be sensible around horses, simply because they can kill you. That’s why it’s called, ‘good horse sense’.

Linda had and still has more of that ‘good horse sense’ than me. She graduated from college with a degree in Fine Arts and married afterward; I pursued a degree but dropped out to marry. We both divorced our first husbands but not before I had birthed two children into an unwholesome situation. She remains childless by choice but has mothered enough foreign exchange students to have her own zip code. She purchased a respectable and lucrative Auction House; I worked for her. She remarried and purchased a home; I rented an apartment and remained a single parent for a time, struggling to make frayed ends meet. She and her husband Jack played polo and traveled to Europe while I watched Little League games and attended PTA meetings and counseling sessions. Her art studio is larger than some places I’ve lived. Her second husband adored her, and she him. It was a phenomenal partnership and a lengthy one based upon respect, devotion, compassion, understanding and true love; something rarely experienced in this disposable world where relationships and prescriptions share a similar expiration period. My second huband? He left me for some nebulous something else, yet to be discovered. It happens. He didn’t want to hurt me he said, but felt it best if he had to do it, to do it quickly like, ‘removing an adhesive bandage’. Somehow, I’ve erred in appreciating the bandage analogy. Yes, Linda’s life and mine have taken divergent paths over the years. Furthermore, we live states apart. Miraculously, these differences have made little difference in our friendship, but only enhanced it.

This Christmas, she’s driving her Subaru from Maryland to Massachusetts for a visit and I am as excited about that as a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. She’s bridged the miles with compassion, wired me money, cried with me when I couldn’t cry for myself anymore, pulled laughter from my gut when I thought all hope was lost, and shown me nothing but grace…angelic qualities made flesh, bone and blood.

Someone once said that friends are angels without wings. It’s true. I know because my angel drives a Subaru.

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