Once again the doorway to Starbucks proved to be a portal into a magical land. I know it seems radical as I speak of it however you must understand and see from my eyes. Hospitals are so sterile. They are filled with sorrow, strange noises and smells. For me Starbucks is a staple. While it is a socialized staple and we all know how much I hate that, I still can't help myself getting swept away as I fall into the purple velvet chair in the corner with my warm cup of coffee. I let the world fall away and for just a moment I am not sick. I am not tied to oxygen. I am free. I am young, 27 years to be exact and have so much life ahead of me. For a moment I am an old soul with hopes and dreams and a chance to embrace each and every one of them.
My visit today was as always, satisfying. The register boy looked at my shirt and smiled. He looked at me and said, "Abbie Hoffman". I smiled back and said, "Yes". Small interactions make my soul well. So thank you Register Boy. You made my day by recognizing Abbie Hoffman. But more than that thank you for looking past the plastic strapped to my face. For not asking questions or giving unruly stares, but rather instead for treating me like a person, a real live breathing person. That made me feel beautiful and it made you beautiful too.
A rather large gentleman walked in, shabbily dressed. I watched him as he wiped the sweat from his brow. He paced back and fourth to the counter. He never placed an order. I noticed as he turned to walk away that he had cut the heels out of his shoes. He was wearing mens dress shoes that laced in the front, the color was black. You could tell they were seconds however he had shined them up nice. My heart fell out of my chest and into the floor as I watched him stride out of the coffee shop. He had cut out the heels simply because they didn't fit. He was doing the best with what he had. He suddenly became my hero. I wanted to wrap my arms around him. To take his worries away. To give him hope. I know if I live to be a hundred I will never forget him and in that moment that my heart broke. My situation turned to a puddle in the floor. All of a sudden it wasn't about me anymore. It wasn't about the demons I am facing. It was something much bigger. Bigger than me. So I prayed to God. He usually handles the big things....while I just sweat the small things. That is why I am not but I know I Am. =)
After he left I began to observe others shoes. I found myself surrounded by mostly doctors at this point. It was amusing for a brief second. Then I felt like they were invading my sacred space. A space I have made just for myself. A space I can pretend all is well. I decided then and there they should have a new policy....NO WHITE COATS ALLOWED. It isn't like I am denying them their cup of joe, just take off the coat, slouch a little, dig your feet in the ground and be human for a moment. Of course their shoes were all bright, shiny and new. I don't know a whole lot about mens shoes however I could tell the ones they were wearing had to cost a lot. Then I imagined that they had many more pairs just the same sitting at home in their closets. It made me sad to think of the man who had a pair too small to fit and then those who had more than enough. I suppose that is the law of life. Even in all of its infinite beauty it still remains unfair.
I noticed the doctor with the shiniest shoes of all could not stop starring at me as he made his way to the end of the counter to get his cup of gladness. He peered at me as if I was a medical oddity. I wondered if he was trying to guess my disease, sizing me up as he was. Then I realized I was playing too much into the scene, giving him too much credit. His thoughts were elsewhere I am sure, maybe a loved one at home he couldn't wait to get to, or his patient that lay fighting for their lives that he so desperately wants to save. He needs to be someones hero. Sorry Mr. Nice Shoes I can't give you that badge today. I gave that away already , to the man who would love to walk a day in your shoes. I already have my own doctor anyway, while he doesn't leap from tall buildings and I have never seen a shiny red cape peeking out of his collar, his bow ties make me smile, his compassion warms my heart and his honesty earns my respect. So I guess on some days his mind may wonder to me as I lay fighting for my life that he desperately wants to save. That doesn't make him my hero, that makes him my safe place. These days those are hard to come by and their worth is more than an unnamed hero.
Through the doors strides a girl, late twenties. She has on ordinary city street attire, bag slung over her shoulder. I can't help but notice her height. She is such an average height, not too tall, not too short. Maybe I would like being that way too. It does seem as if I am getting shorter these days. Am I shrinking? Or is just the world growing? Either way it makes me feel so small apart of something so big. Alas, this is life, dear friend. I suppose God saw fit for you to be your way and for me to be mine. Even the scar on my lip had a purpose. He knew the confidence it would instill into the very being of who I am. It is so odd to be surrounded by so many unhappy people, vain people. Always wanting the right clothes, shoes, hair. My scar is symbolic. It is the un ordinary in an ordinary world. It is me and I wouldn't have it...any....other....way. =)
My favorite part is when the children are cued into the scene. They are so innocent, healthy, and pure. They stare at me, not like I am a medical oddity, but rather with question. The best part about children is they don't just stare, they ask. What is that? Why do you have that? Adults only stare when you aren't looking. They stare with judging eyes. They assume. It makes me recall a music teacher I had in high school. On the first day of class I began to have an uncontrollable coughing fit while roll was being called. He paused, looked up and said, "Why don't you light up another cigarette?". He assumed something about me. That was a terribly embarrassing day for me. Two weeks later I became ill and had to be hospitalized. He asked one of my friends why I hadn't been attending class. Imagine the horror as he came to learn I had an incurable terminal lung disease. When I returned to school he pulled me aside after class one day and apologized. I accepted however it would have been nice if he would have offered it in front of the class since that is where he chose to single me out and humiliate me because of the monster living in my chest that I had been fighting off since birth. I have never forgotten that day and sometimes I wonder if he still assumes things about others or if he takes a child's stance and asks questions first. Questions are wonderful. What are we without knowledge?? Never be afraid to ask.
I have countless memories just like this. Memories of girls taunting and teasing me for coughing. Telling everyone around me that I wasn't truly sick and that I was "faking" it. How sad I feel when I reflect on these experiences, not for me, however for them. I think of how lives could have been changed if they would have just asked. I would have been willing to share. I suppose that is just what comes from being a teenager. We all thought the world revolved around us at some point. Ha Imagine our shock when we realized the earth circled the sun and our lives were so tiny, so small, like specks of dust. Being an old soul I learned this lesson long before my peers, which had its advantages and disadvantages. I can say now, at the age of 27, I am blessed beyond measure. Blessed to have encountered some of the most breathtakingly beautiful souls in this life of mine. Whether it be lifetime friendships or just passing moments, child hood friends or magical souls in a hospital Starbucks who remind me of what it is to be humble, thankful for the skin I have, the life I DO have. They are all a part of me. Even the ones I pass on the street, the nine to five in her heels on her cell phone trying to make something in this world, the homeless man who just wants spare change so he can once again choose between a warm meal or a steady drug to get him through the day. Each one of them I take something from, a lesson, a moment. Beautiful, precious moments. How can our hearts not swell when we stop....and look around? Life is happening all around us, beautiful precious life. What a wonder to be a part of this, this second, this minute, this moment. Moments rushing with urgency. It is like I am standing with my eyes closed in the middle of one of these city streets inside of a vibrant water color that would even give Picasso a run for his money. The smells, the textures, the tastes. This is LIFE! Don't let another second go by without truly experiencing it. It doesn't have to be big to change your life. Sometimes if you will just be still, tell your soul to be quiet and open your heart, you would not believe the love that will pour into you from the people around you, in simple situations. My prayer today dear friend, is as you read this, you will love deeper than ever, allowing your senses to take you to immeasurable heights, soak it in, not miss a second, and to throw yourself at the feet of your King. Cling to Him, turn to Him. Know today that you dear friend like me, know I am not but with every part of my being find peace that I know I Am.
Love to you all, today and forever.
Love. Love. Love.