Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bean Scene: The Unseen

We were on a scooter ride in the neighborhood, and Noah saw a man pushing a shopping cart on the road 20 feet away. "Watch out!" he yelled as a car approached. The man thanked him, moving out of the center of the street. Noah hit some uneven pavement and bailed from his scooter. The man with the cart shouted, "Be careful there! Are you alright?"

As we kept walking and scootering along next to the man and his cart, we found some things to talk about. The man asked, "Do you know Easter's coming? That's when Jesus went back up to heaven!"

"Yeah!" Noah said.

"Now you listen to your Mom, and do what's good and right, ok?"

"Mmmm hmmm," said Noah.

"I'm the youngest of 10 boys, and when my brothers went off to war, I watched all the nephews and nieces. My name's Mike. People would say, 'Here comes Mike's Army!' You like to scooter? I have a skateboard here in my cart."

"Really?" Noah asks. "Do you ride it and get hurt?"

"Sometimes," the man said. "But if you practice, you won't fall as much."

"Do you want to come with us the way we're going," Noah asks.

"No, no, you go ahead. You know, your Mom is letting you talk to me because I'm telling you what's right--to be good and listen to your Mom and stick with her cuz she'll always love you. Otherwise she'd shuffle you along to not talk to me. You see, not all homeless people are good. You listen to your Mom, OK?"

"OK." Noah nods. "Have a good day!"

"You too, son. And you too, Lady." [Noah and he shake hands. I have never seen a dirtier hand in my life. But something happened inside of me when I saw my son's little hand shake his. Something unearthly.]

This man was holding a half-full bottle of alcohol. He had a tattered American Flag bandana around his neck. His eyes were the purest blue I've ever seen. I don't know if he was dangerous. I don't know if he was drunk. I don't know if I should have let Noah interact with him. I was there, on high alert, and ready to run and scream or use pepper spray if I had to. My instincts were that he was safe but dirty. And I didn't want Noah to be afraid of this person simply because he was homeless. Noah showed no signs of feeling uncomfortable. So I gave him a little slack on the leash. That few minute interaction will be stored in my heart forever: seeing my son effortlessly relate to this man without registering his appearance, cleanliness, or eccentricity.

Mugshot: Michele

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Los Angeles’ Queen of Generosity. Actually, she WAS homecoming queen back in the day in Western PA. We’ve got the hometown connection, the thrift store connection, the athletic connection, the art connection, and, of course, the cafe connection. This amazing lady runs a successful ebay business selling vintage items gleaned from local estate sales; she is a former pro-mogul skier and Vale snowboard instructor; professional photographer; and just the sweetest, most thoughtful lady. She is never without a gift or an offer to buy me and Noah another round of tea and apple juice. I can’t even count the number of times she’s refused to let me pay for my wine, thrown unique thrift store finds into my trunk (like that floor-length, polyester dress with jungle print tiger heads all over it), or dropped chocolates into my purse. She’s also one of four people in my life who had perfect attendance for my Art Show, Birthday Party, and Petit Montmartres. We've even been able to do some community service together, share some holidays, and send texts & photos during travels. Thanks for being so great, big Sis!

Mugshot: Candy.

photo (95)
An original writer, an original human, if ever there were. And one with a spirit as curious and sweet as George's. Candy rides the LA River 2 hours EVERY DAY on her decorated bicycle named Earl. She has an infectious belly laugh and a monkey backpack (so she can put it on the chair and say, “Phew, finally got that monkey off my back!”) She’s as warm and encouraging as a Care Bear and as smart as the robot that built Einstein’s brain. Candy and I have formed a bond around being sensitive, creative, Mommy misfits. She not only holds me accountable to doing the business of writing, she also inspires me to be at ease in my own process as a writer...and as a person. 
So grateful to be riding beside her on my unicycle down the serpentine and pot-holed artists’ way… 

Mugshot: Gen.

photo 3 (14)The gorgeous & talented Miss Genevieve Carson, after the final night of her brilliantly choreographed, “Into the Fray.” Gen’s been high-fiving Noah since his little hand could execute one. We’ve been admiring each other’s boots and arms for several years now, and I’m proud to say that Gen introduced me to the Bar Method phenomenon of “shaky legs.” (She teaches a crazy workout class called “Bar Method” where all your muscles quiver from exhaustion. Accidentally took class with her once and almost died.) It’s been so exciting to watch Gen’s career as a contemporary dancer, teacher, & choreographer develop to the point of now being poised to helm LA’s Contemp Dance Company, her absolute dream role. A successful artist is a rare and beautiful thing in Los Angeles. But perhaps more amazing has been getting to experience the humor and humility of such a gifted lady. P.S.--She's getting married this summer, and we couldn't be happier for her, her boyfriend, and their two cat children :)