sometimes i think i should be wandering around with my camcorder in hand. since i haven't, i can only try to describe the moment in words.
one of the days i was walking to and fro, i passed by a certain great diner. one of possibly the last breakfasts that cost under $4 which will keep you full for most of the day on either coast. believe me, i know. i've looked.
but all of that is besides the point. every time i saunter by, i peek in the permanently smudged windows. i can't help it. i just need to know how they stay in business because this diner is a dying american breed.
the one day in question, i looked in and saw this incredible woman. and i mean it in the true, first description sense of the word according to the merriam webster online dictionary:
"1 : too extraordinary and improbable to be believed
this woman, she had such character in her face. i can guess as to her age, perhaps 70, 58? 45? i don't know, and i never will. i'm going to make an educated guess and say she is prob in her 70s. doesn't matter, does it?
the scene i have burned into the metal of my mind goes as follows:
i walk by slowly, head down, as usual, deep in thought, deeply listening to the lyrics whispering into my ears, enjoying the sounds traversing to my brain and back. i briefly glance into at the aforementioned smudged windows at my diner of choice. i see a woman. she is facing the street, her elbows at either side of her plate of food. her face resembles playdough. her skin is the color of pure bone, not quite white, but not far from it. her facial lines travel from the top of her nose to the edges of her cheeks; from the bottom of her lip lines to the end of her chin. the doughy skin is puffy and swells around each of her natural facial features, with the few striking lines deeply entrenched in thought busily carving a map of decades. her eyes, from what i can tell, are closed. her hands are clasped tightly, fingers intertwined. her mouth is moving, nearly imperceptibly, but i can tell since i've stopped abruptly and turned 3/4ths of the way around. she is saying a prayer. she is thankful for her modestly large meal which costs less than $4, less than 1/2 of hourly minimum wage in one of the richest urban areas in the world.
i watch her start and end the prayer. i don't watch her dive for her food. i don't want her to notice that i've observed an intensely private moment of hers. otherwise, perhaps she wouldn't do something like that again. and that moment should be shared with the world. or at least the passersby of that particular diner of which i hope she frequents. it made me think of me, of what i am thankful for, of whether or not i share that with others and what others must think of the frown lines i've acquired in my few decades here on earth. i'm lucky and am a calitexican, so my lines aren't as pronounced as others i know at my age thanks to melanin, but, to me, her lines were so deserved, so full of life and love. and sharing that moment with her i feel, obviously was very internal, but also makes me feel good to be living in a city where i can capture such fleeting moments. my observation could not have been more than 5 seconds, but has definitely left an impression weeks later. don't think i will forget it anytime soon, if ever.
be thankful for what you have. not for what you don't. since i tend to focus on the latter, the former is my cognitive behavioral therapy in practice advice for the day.