Friday, February 26, 2010

Neighbor Friday: Bon Appetit Hon

Hi Friends! While I'm gambling my life away in Sin City, I'm entrusting you to the wit of Wendi from Bon Appetit Hon. She's bringing both the funny and the tender today, and I know you'll love her as much as I do.

For more Won't You Be My Neighbor fun, click on the icon below and visit Amy at The Never-True Tales!


Before I get to my Neighborly contribution....there's all kinds of backstory to this. Like I didn't own a car until I was 25 so all my commuting was done on the bus. I even lugged bags of groceries home on the bus every week, otherwise I didn't eat. Most of my bus memories were of the weird people that were attracted to me for some the lady with a deformed arm (I don't know how to say that kindly) who asked me if I could help her button her pants or the people that talk to the voices...yeah, that kind of thing. And I had kind of forgotten about this memory for the longest time, I think because it was so normal (well, for me).

After the worst breakup I've ever been through, I really questioned whether I would ever find love, if I was worthy or capable of being loved. And then this memory came back to me. And it gave me hope. Which I needed, especially after the therapist I had started seeing to try and put the piece of my shattered self back together got busted for helping a man break out of prison. There is nothing like the feeling of turning on the 11 o'clock news and seeing your therapist in racy boudoir photos (which she sent to said inmate) and learning that she broke some convict out of the pokey. Yeah, that's the woman I want helping me to understand how to make better choices... So after all that blathering, here's my story.

Mine Eyes Have Seen

I was watching the movie Notting Hill the other day. Total chick flick. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I always get weepy at the end. There’s a scene where Julia Roberts gives Hugh Grant a painting. She says something about how it makes her think about what love feels like.

We all have our own ideas about what love feels like. Maybe it’s a touch on the back of the neck. Or the warmth of a hand in yours. But what does love look like? And how does that change over a lifetime?

There is one day I clearly recall being in the presence of a lifetime of love. I was coming home from work on the bus after a tragically ordinary day. The ride held nothing unusual and I took on my usual mass transit demeanor; I sat staring out the window, blocking out the noise and people around me. It must have been early spring because I remember being weighed down by the heaviness of my sweater and coat and the light fading early, long before I got home.

To gaze out the window facing me on the other side of the bus, I had to stare though an elderly couple that occupied the seats in front of it. I paid them no mind. To be truthful, I was oblivious to them until they signaled for the bus to stop. Hearing the ringing of the bell, I looked at the hand that slowly lowered to resume its place in the woman’s lap.

As the bus pulled up to the corner, the couple raised themselves from the seats. Once the doors opened, it took them a few moments to descend the steps. She exited the bus before he did and as he navigated those three steps, he practiced a routine that must have been familiar to him. Grab the rail, place the cane on the step, lower one foot, lower the other, place the cane on the next step, and so on.

My attention was riveted on them while most everyone else looked at the traffic light, probably hoping that we didn’t miss the green light and have to sit there longer. Once the elderly man reached the sidewalk, he reached over to his waiting companion, took her left hand, and quietly placed it just above his right elbow. Supporting one another, they walked down the street and out of my life, unaware of my interest in them.

I’ve never forgotten the feeling I took away from seeing that. To this day, it remains one of the sweetest gestures I have ever seen. In that one action I heard unspoken words of trust and respect, support and endurance. Watching that corner scene, I almost felt as though I was spying on the couple. It was no more than a moment and yet it was one that struck me as intimate and personal, not for public display.

I’ll never know who those people were. But if I could, I’d thank them for giving me hope that love can be present in the quiet moments of everyday life even after a lifetime together.


  1. Awesome post and a great example of love you got to see.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes...I hope to have that hand waiting for me when I'm that age too.

  3. This is beautiful. Wonderfully written.

  4. What a sweet and innocent scene you witnessed, and yet you were able to see the intimacy, love, trust, in that one moment of time. Makes me wonder how much we witness going on around us. Looks like you have clear vison, and I'm not talking about your eyesight.

  5. This brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful example of love.

  6. This is a beautiful piece - I also enjoyed the foreword with reference to the therapist - very amusing and witty. You are clearly an incredibly perceptive and thoughtful person - what a special moment to take note of and draw wisdom from. It is the small things -they can so often go amiss. xxx

  7. Thanks for the kind words everyone. I'm thrilled that TKW let me share this story with you all. And I hope she's having a sinful time in Vegas.

  8. This is poignant, to say the least, and unusual that you took the time to pay attention to this scene, and in a way, memorize it.

    In addition to reflecting that people can continue to show caring and love for many years, it raises other issues as well. For example, how readily the "young" dismiss those who are older. What it must feel like to be constrained by a body that won't move as quickly as it once did - or as others might (impatiently) want it to.

    We live in a culture that does not look at what it does not want to see. If we are fortunate, we will all make it to old age, navigating a wonderful journey of adventures through each stage in life. To make any of that journey with loved ones is a privilege, not a given.

    If we remembered that love and respect are not to be taken lightly, and that older bodies do not mean lesser individuals, we might all be better off.

    On a slightly related note: My almost-17-year old son, and a 17-year old house guest were joking around the other evening. I made a point of telling them I had a critical "life lesson on women" for them both. A tip. "Every woman, whatever her age, still has a large portion of 17-year old girl in her. Don't ever forget it. Be sensitive to it."

    I believe that's true of all of us. Inside, who we are, our dreams - they remain intact. The vehicle grows worn. If only we could remember that.

    Loved the piece.

  9. TKW: Hope you are having an awesome birthday in Lost Wages.
    Wendi: Lovely, touching story about love. My parents, who were married 73 years were a perfect example.
    And I remember my mother at 92, looking in a mirror and then glancing at me and saying, with amazement, WHO IS THAT OLD WOMAN IN THE MIRROR? Surely a lesson for all of us. No matter how old you are, the young person is still there!

  10. Love the scene you painted, Wendi. Something so worth wishing for in terms of our own futures, no?

  11. Beautiful. Here is to all of us having a person to hold on to as we get older.

  12. Maybe some sweet hand-holding was what your therapist was looking for, too ... OK, probably not. I started this post laughing into my Dr. Pepper (ouch), ended it wiping my eyes on my sweater. Thanks for the ride!

  13. That was such a lovely, wistful piece. Thank you for sharing it.

    (And seriously? I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see your therapist on the news like that!)

  14. Wendi, How lovely, and what a lovely thing for you to see at that exact point in your life, a symbol of a love that lasted a lifetime. To aim for that - a loving hand, a person tender and protective even when he's vulnerable by infirmity, that's pretty great.

    Thanks for visiting TKW so we could meet you!

  15. What a captivating post. I just love what you took from such a simple, pure scene...while most of us would just see two old people, getting off a bus. What a beautiful soul you are.

  16. A wonderful post. Simple but amazing :)

  17. I've enjoyed looking at my memory of this moment through all your comments and seeing how it touched something within each of you. Too often I'm guilty of looking at something but not really seeing it. Fortunately, this was not one of those times.

  18. So, the first thing I thought of after the therapist bit was "how did that make you feel?" :)

    In watching love, I would imagine it's those small gestures that make her feel so appreciated as well.

    Thanks for sharing this story!

  19. I can picture this perfectly. And I always feel as though I'm seeing something truly special when I see an elderly couple together and obviously in love as well. Glad to meet a new neighbor! Off to check out your blog!