#Reverb10 offers a month of reflection and prompts for each day. I’m slowly catching up, and enjoying the prompts, however delayed. December 27 is ordinary joy.
*** *** ***
Yesterday I ran to the bus stop, almost missing the bus, to jump on the 38L and transverse San Francisco, east to west. My apartment is close to downtown, and the pool I teach swim lessons in is out in the boonies – also known as the Inner Richmond.
(I look silly, when I’m running in the rain in this city. I dress for warmth and function, not glamour, when I’m in the middle of DO-ing. And I am vaguely aware of the strange looks I get as I run by people on the sidewalks – but why walk when you can RUN?
My typical rainy weather attire includes a long blue jacket, a bright red vest, and a rain slicker. Oh, and I tuck my hair upwards into a brown hat. Mostly because these items of clothing are WARM. And it keeps me dry. Oh, and my Sauconys. You can’t find me without my Sauconys.)
And then I ran.
On the bus, I tagged the bus card, pulled out the book I’m currently reading out of my backpack (forgot to mention: backpack adds to nerdiness, above). I started reading. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I looked up.
The man across from me was looking at me. Well, I think he was looking at me.
I glanced at his face and then at his clothes – his soft, tan cargo pants full of crinkles and his 5 or 6 year old, unassuming shoes – before my eyes automatically darted back up to his face and his head. My eyes inadvertently widened slightly as I noticed his complete figure.
His face was a dimpled carcass of tans, reds, and taught pinks, with a small slit for his left eye and a slightly bigger opening for the right eye. The entire left side of his face was covered in tight, stretched, charred skin. His hair was missing from one side of his head, with a tuft of hair spouting off the right side, uncombed and probably due for a hair cut. His ear was burned off with nothing but a hole left. Instead of an ear, it was one continuous surface with a small, dark inlet where the ear canal would have been. It looked as though his ear had been cleanly sliced off and the remains of his face was a burn mark.
And he smiled at me.
He smiled, and then pointed down to his lap, where he was holding a big black box with stickers and numbers and sounds. The bus pulled up to a stop. The box declared, “Franklin.”
Then the bus announcer, in an echo, announced “Next stop, Franklin, Franklin, Next Stop.”
The man giggled.
*** *** ***
We all carry scars, wounds, and trauma. Some of it is emotional, some physical. Some of us have healed, some of us are healing, some of us are still struggling. Much of it we can cover up – with clothing, with a stance, with a smile, with an attitude. But the face: the face you can’t hide, you can’t cover up as easily.
Scars on the face beget curious stares, shocked stares, long looks and wide eyes. It’s disrupting to see something out of the ordinary, something different, something unusual. I admire this gentleman, because of the poise and happiness he carried with him through his movements. He sat, at ease, enjoying the noise and the announcement of the bus stop.
He laughed again, and pointed to the box.
The woman next to him adjusted her seat without looking up. The bus rattled over potholes and creaked to a stop.
“Webster!” He cried, throwing his hands up.
What fun, what play, to get on a bus and enjoy the stops and the starts and the ride it gives you through the city.
What an unexpected joy for me, to run into such happiness unplanned. Riding the bus always presents characters, but sometimes, on rare lucky days, it presents moments.
And people – raw people.
To enjoy life with such unabashed pleasure – that is the goal.
To experiences of ordinary joy.—
Get my monthly newsletter, not available anywhere else: The SKP Monthly.