Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rough Exteriors filled with Beauty and Wisdom…

It is late afternoon. I am bored and have read my fill of the internet. I wander down to the shopping center in the late afternoon sun. Nary a cloud is in the sky and the warmth of the low hanging winter sun splashes upon my face only interrupted by the occasional tree or house as I walk through my neighborhood. The day has warmed up quite nicely.

I pass the newspaper office and a few cars are sitting in the parking lot. I think of late deadlines as editors ponderously peruse over today’s newsworthy items for tomorrow’s edition of the local paper getting ready to publish. I don’t envy them of such a job. Early next morning will soon arrive and a sea of delivery cars will adorn the parking lot to deliver the paper in the dark hours before sunrise. People will wander out to a new morning sun to gather their papers only to be entertained by the unexceptional news that a small southern town can generate in one day. The daily police report is one of the most hotly read columns.

As I approach the many dumpsters behind the shopping center, a lone bicycle is propped up against one. An elderly black man crawls out with something in hand. I remark to myself how popular these dumpsters have become for scavenging. Dumpster Diving Dan has the right idea to hit them so early in the morning. That old adage the early bird gets the worm comes to mind. I haven’t seen Dan in days and hope he is okay.

I walk past the hair salon and the tax preparation office as I round the corner. Rosa is sitting on an isolated bench far down from the main part of the shopping center. She looks deep in thought as she holds a can of soda. I take a seat beside her and drum up a conversation. I notice her hands once again as we talk. Just like the many lines on her face, these calloused hands tell a story; a story that is not often told as it is normal to not let your steely guard down that most people put up.

“I have a daughter,” She tells me as I offer her a cigarette from my backpack. “I haven’t seen her in years.”

“Does she live near here?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” Rosa says with a forlorn look upon her weathered face.

“I’ve never had any kids,” I say. “I don’t think I ever will.”

“Never say never,” She replies. “You are still so young and life has a way of bringing the unexpected.”

I realize there is a bright, wise, and beautiful woman underneath that drug worn and unflatteringly rough exterior. She was probably beautiful once and was courted by many a man. She now sits tired in middle age with her thoughts about a past life. Idle days trying to stay clean and sober with those thoughts are not easy. Much like my own long days I have experienced this week broken only by the safe confines of the meeting halls of A.A. every night.

As I leave Rosa, I hand her my spare pack of cigarettes and my almost spent spare lighter from my backpack. She smiles softly revealing a few missing teeth.

“Thank you,” She says. “You made today easier.”

I genuinely just wanted to bring some small comfort to another soul. I needed someone to talk to and she was there. I left her staring out in the parking lot watching the middle class ladies with their glamorous SUVs busily chattering nosily upon cell phones as they all made their way to the many stores in the shopping center to spend their money. Rosa doesn’t have much and her life is far removed from these ladies I just spoke of, but she has a story to tell; a story much richer and vibrant than those of those milquetoast ladies leading uninspired lives filled with the frivolousness of modern American life.


greglo said...

I like Rosa a lot... I wonder... if there was some way to let her know you talked about her, how much you like her and praise her and that your writing about her touched people as far away as a little town in southern France...

fiwa said...

This was a great post. Reading it brightened MY day.

Thank you.

Kristen said...

This is such a beautiful post of gentle peace, reaching out, and moment-to-moment descriptions of feelings and surroundings, that I would like to copy it in its entirety to my blog. Would that be OK?

Amanda said...

I agree with you.

Augs Casa said...


Again, a wonderful post by a wonderful person. Your kindness warms me.

Andrew said...


That would be find. Thank you for enjoying reading it.


PS- Thanks for all the comments. It makes writing worthwhile!

Angel said...

Wow, this is a beautiful post. Ok, so I say that a lot, but it's the only thing that comes to mind when I read your posts. I'm sorry I can't offer anything more insightful, but I want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing your life, you make it and the people around you beautiful.

Edyta said...

i'm sorry i dont mean to be a stalker but this is one of the most interesting posts i have ever read. truly.
good day :)

Kristen said...

Thanks, Andrew. I activated the 'draft' I had created earlier.

Cheryl said...

Wonderful story of your day. I'm kind of speechless. That saying, 'practice random acts of kindness'--it seems you do that all the time. You're a good guy.

SKQBDOO said...

Just what I needed to read today. As I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself because I visited a friends house earlier in the week with a very nice house and now I feel like I live in a dump compared to theirs. It is so easy to get caught up in material things that are so unimportant.

Count your blessings, name them one by one!!!

austere said...

What a tremendously KIND thing for Rosa to say. Great post. You've made the lines come alive.

Jessica said...

Your writing is pretty and touching. I so agree with your closing sentence.

Rock dweller said...

You have such a vivid life..... So much charactor, so much insight. Im hooked on your blog.

Anonymous said...

I usually like to read first posts on a blog but I was a little confused as to which was your actual 'first post' so I wound up here at your 'favorite' instead. I've been reading for a while now, thumbing through your pages and very much enjoying your rich entries.

Thanks for sharing some time with me this afternoon.

A friend,

clairem said...

your posts show how much you know yourself from within what you need and what you can give, where your limits are... Isn't it worth all the rough periods you go through at times? As you say about Rosa (she has a vibrant story to tell) so do you.

May you find the beautiful feminine figure within you (often hidden beneath piles of shit) and love her the way you love Rosa.

Many thanks for your sharings

MIndy's Co. said...

I efought this was very interesting. Great blog!