“Inspire Someone. Smile.”

I went to Starbucks today. I sat in my usual comfy chair with my journal in my lap and a book set on a table to read when I am finished writing. I hear a woman’s voice tell someone their usual spot is taken. I look up and see a woman settling into a chair across from me. I ask her if she would rather sit here. A huge smile covers her face. She’s sixty-five years old, (I learn this later) but has the ‘full of life’ smile of a child and she really likes to sit near the window.

I stand up and collect my things. With the help of a cane, she walks toward me. I offer my hand. She takes it, kisses it, and presses it against her face. I smile. That’s not why I extended my hand. I meant to help her, but I don’t mind. It’s not awkward. She’s sweet and thanks me many times for giving up my seat. I tell her I’m happy to do it. Her husband arrives with their drinks and they sit together, side-by-side, on the cozy chairs near the window.

We talk a little. She tells me her age and the reason for the cane is because she has Multiple Sclerosis, a condition she developed when she was twenty-two. She tells me she worked with children with Autism and she is recently retired. Because I know MS is a progressive disease, I tell her how wonderful it is that she was able to work for so long doing what she loves. Again, she smiles that awesome smile.

She talks about her husband and casts a loving look his way. “He’s been taking care of me our whole marriage. We’ve been married almost forty years.” I imagine she takes care of him in ways she doesn’t even realize because being with her for the short time that I was made me feel more alive – more appreciative of life – than I’ve ever been.

I listen to this woman talk and occasional symptoms of her disease show, but she works through them. “I’m a fighter,” she tells me.

“Yes, you are.”

She smiles and waves at people. When a young mother with a small child orders the exact beverage she has, she raises her drink, and says, “Me too!”

I go to my new seat and open my journal. I try to concentrate on what I was there to write, but I can’t stop watching the couple I just met. Their legs stretched out on an ottoman, as they relax into their chairs, talking and laughing, completely enthralled with each other.

After nearly forty years of marriage, not only does this husband and wife still love one another, but they really like each other, too. Even when they’re saying nothing, I can feel contentment in their silence. It’s a touching moment because sometimes a partner’s illness can strain a relationship, but poor health hasn’t dampened this couple’s bond – -perhaps it has enriched it.

I watch them closely and know they are oblivious of the woman sitting across the room writing about them. And that she is inspired. They inspired someone – me — just by being themselves and I really needed that today.

I see them preparing to leave and I toss my journal to the side. I’m sure the woman will come to me, so I get ready to stand up. I ponder if a simple ‘good-bye’ will do or if I should extend my hand. It’s an uncomfortable predicament because so many people are anti-contact, but the woman puts my concern immediately at ease when she approaches me with her arms wide open. And that smile…Oh that smile.

She hugs me as though she’s known me for a long time. It’s not a quick embrace. She lingers close to my neck, long enough to tell me I smell good.  She kisses my hand again.

I ask her name. It’s Betsy. She says she comes here a lot. I tell her I hope to see her again. And I mean that.

We don’t need to climb a mountain to inspire – – just look adversity in the face and smile. Someone will be inspired.

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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Queer Town Abbey’s “Equal Rights Blog Hop”

Thank you Queer Town Abbey for hosting this blog hop with the theme “My first experience in the LGBT community.”

blog_hop_button  The Equal Rights Blog Hop July 4th through 11th blog hop button

I came out when I was twenty. I told most of my family and friends I was gay before I had even held another girl’s hand. I was that sure of who I was and desperately needed to be around people like me.

One Thursday night, I drove to a lesbian bar near my house. With a nervous twist in my stomach, I pulled into the parking lot. I sat in my car – hesitant and having second thoughts. I gave myself a pep talk. “Come on Alicia, it’s just a bar!” and “These are your people!”

After a few more minutes of hemming and hawing, I yelled out, “It’s Thursday night for Christ sakes!” I opened my car door and with a confidence that screamed “I’m not afraid of Thursday nights!” I swayed toward the entrance.

It wasn’t until I reached the doors and pulled my wallet from my pocket that I remembered I was using a fake ID. I’d always get uneasy when using it at new places. My sister and I didn’t look that much alike. But I had other things to be anxious about and with a forced nonchalant smile and a heavy heartbeat, I handed over my ID.

Seconds later, I was welcomed into my first gay bar.

I stepped into the dark place that looked just like any other bar I’d been to. Small groups of women were either hovered over pool tables or chatting loudly on stools, while a scattered few danced across the near-empty dance floor.

The bar wasn’t crowded, but that was my plan. I was baby-stepping my way into the gay community. I took a seat and immediately pulled out my pack of smokes and dropped it in front of me. I have long since quit, but back then I needed my cigarettes. It gave me something to do with my hands and allowed me to concentrate on something other than myself.

The bartender came over. I had no way of knowing that she would come to make many drinks for me and had a keen way of pin-pointing when I was in the mood for a beer or for my favorite mixed drink. But she didn’t know me then, so I had to tell her.

Soon, a transvestite named Michelle sat beside me. Aside from the bartender, she was the first person to talk to me. She was very friendly and immediately put me at ease. I’ll never forget her for that.

But as she talked about her girlfriend, I realized I had a lot to learn about the community I was starting to call my own. I had assumed that men who dressed as women were attracted to other men. I hung on her every word as she told to me about her and her girlfriend’s recent fights.

I was introduced to something foreign to me and my “suburban” way of living. But there was no doubt I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I took a chance that night and it paid off. I would come to make many memories in that bar that I still hold close to me today. Not too long ago, I’d taken another chance, but time has yet to show if it will pay off. But whether or not good memories come from what I’d done, I don’t ever want to stop taking chances.

Whatever the uncertainty in your life, are you willing to take a chance?

 

To enter the Giveaway please answer this simple question from post:

“What day of the week did I go to my first gay bar?”

Please post the answer in the Rafflecopter widget for the opportunity to win one of the grand prizes.

http://queertownabbey.com/the-equal-rights-blog-hop-july-4th-through-11th/

 

Thanks again Queer Town Abbey for hosting this blog hop! Please follow the hop at queertownabbey.com for a chance to win prizes! And please leave a comment on my blog for a chance to win an ebook copy of my lesbian romance novella, Her Name, coming out July 11.

Her Name

 

Please visit other authors participating in this blog hop!