storytelling: quarters at the laundromat

8 quartersI went to the laundromat to do my laundry today.  I was on “step 2,” which is taking the clothes out of the washer and transferring them to the dryer when a transient man in a wheelchair rolled in.  This large, dark man ferociously grunted and had a cough that could shake the leaves off of trees.  If he were capable of standing, he’d tower well over 6 feet.  He didn’t use his hands to move the wheels of the bariatric-sized chair, he used only his right foot.  As he inched his way to the back of the laundromat, men stared, keeping an eye on him; women quickly gathered their clothes and blankets, relocating their folding areas to the other section of the laundromat, frightened of him.  He passed me and stopped at the older $1.25 washers.  With many ogre-like guttural noises, he began to take off all the clothes he was wearing until he only wore his underwear and the dirt covered cast on his left leg was visibly unmaintained.  He then started placing all his money on a table – a crumpled dollar bill and some change.

I approached with my hand out to him ready to give, “Do you need some quarters?”

His ash-laden face was covered with surprise as he placed his hand out in front of him to receive, afraid to extend it any further than his personal bubble.  I placed 8 quarters in his hand and he said with an unchanged face, “You are a very kind lady, will you marry me?”  I smiled at him from my eyes and went back to attending my laundry.  He then said with a smile of a kind giant, “Thank you.”

I replied, “You’re welcome.”  I finished folding my laundry, packed up and went home.

This man asked me to marry him all because of a kind gesture of 8 quarters.  I then realized just how big of a fish My Love really is and wondered how many quarters it would take for him to ask me to marry him.

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Shame Diaries 1

Shame:

3rd grade, Robert E. Lee Elementary.  My parents and siblings and I lived at Grandma Floyd’s house, which was right down the street from the elementary school.  My cousins, Nicky and Danny, were staying at my grandma’s house for a short period, and I’m not sure why.  Nicky was in the 2nd grade, she was a year younger than me.  Although we fought all the time, we were best friends.  Our classrooms were right next to each other.

One day, we wanted to ditch my little brother at school and make him walk home by himself.  He was in kindergarten.  I can’t remember why we planned this, maybe he pissed us off or we had the “girls against boy” mentality or maybe we were just mean kids.

Nicky and I ran to Grandma Floyd’s house and waited on the porch for Mikey.  We waited for a very long time.  An 8 year old doesn’t have a good sense of measuring time, but we waited on the porch until my mom pulled up in the driveway with my little brother in the front seat.  She was pissed.

She got out of the car and started yelling at me, “Shame on you, Michelle!  How could you have done this to your brother!”  She carefully got my little brother from the passenger seat out of the car and he had scrapes and bruises all over his arms, legs and face.  She brought him into the house and yelled for me to follow her.

I entered the bedroom where my brother was crying on the bed and my mom knelt down to my level, “Look at your brother.  You left him and this happened!  You are not to ever leave your brother.  You are not to ever let him down again.  Shame on you, Michelle!”

Between all the yelling and my mom telling my dad what happened, I gathered that Mikey waited for me and Nicky at school and figured he would start walking home to Grandma’s house.  As soon as he crossed the street, the 6th grader school bully named Chucky, and his little sister beat up Mikey.  Chucky had a cast over his entire head, including his face; my mom told us it was because his mom punished him by shaving his head and face.

Redemption:

I never left my brother at school by himself again.

One day after I picked him up from class, we were starting to walk down Homedale Street and saw Chucky and his little sister about 20 feet ahead of us.  Mikey got scared and started to walk behind me.  I pretended I wasn’t scared and put my mean face on.  Chucky’s little sister saw my brother and pointed at him, telling her brother that Mikey was behind us.  Chucky stopped, turned around and stayed there, waiting for us to approach him.

I told my brother to stay behind me and to walk on my right side and go ahead of me so he wouldn’t be near Chucky.  As I got near Chucky, I slowed down to give Mikey time.  I stared at the two blue eyes behind the cast of Chucky’s head as I approached.  I stopped right in front of Chucky, “What are you looking at?  You think you just get to pick on little kids half your size!  Now what, you want to pick on a girl?!  I’m not afraid of you.  If you pick on my little brother again or even say one word to him, I’ll tell your mom what you did and whatever happened to your face will happen to the rest of your body.”  I kept eye contact and as soon as my brother got far enough ahead of us, I said to Chucky and his little sister, “I dare you.”

I turned around to continue walking to Grandma’s house and prayed to God that he wouldn’t hit me from behind as I counted my steps.  By the time I checked behind me, Chucky and his sister were gone.

He never picked on my little brother again and I learned that if you convince someone you’re not scared of them, they’ll believe you and eventually you’ll believe yourself too.

let me tell you a story about a boy and a girl

story about boy and girlOnce upon a time, there was a man and woman that fell in love when they were kids.  As kids do, they separate and continue living their lives.  Nineteen years later they reconnect, and one thing is for sure – there was a reason they had each other in their hearts for so long.  There was a reason why they had always harbored a love for one another.  There was a reason they would reconnect at 35 years old and realize it is with each other they were meant to spend their lives with.

Before this man and woman traveled through this life in their flesh, they traveled as one in spirit.  God makes us this way.  He split their darkness, light, depth and love and placed them exactly where they needed to be and to whom they needed to be borne to.  The spirit of the boy was to be seasoned with a life of love, hardship, loneliness and fear, while the spirit of the girl was to be seasoned with a life of suffering, compassion, adversity and pain.

God saw the traveled paths of these two beings on Earth, but had faith that they would meet in this material world.  This faith brought them together in their youth.  The boy and girl locked eyes and heard each other’s voices.  There was an unexplainable connection, but being so young they didn’t understand.  They fell in love, but still needed to learn so much more in life before they could be ready for each other.  Although they parted paths, God still had faith in their spirit.

Their paths would cross multiple times throughout their young adulthood, but it was never at the right time.  The magnetic force of spirit would bring them together but their yearn to succumb to the earthly life would triumph.  God still had faith.

Their trials in life had brought them close to God.  The boy realized that with God as his rock, he will never waiver.  The girl realized that she was never alone, God was with her through all tribulations.

After living many years of life and experiencing many adversities of life, the man and woman connect again. God is the adhesive; it is He that adjoins the spirit of the man and woman.  It is He who makes them complete.

The connection you feel, it’s because of this.  I am the other half of your happiness.  I am the other half of your emptiness.  I am the unvoid to the void.  I stopped praying to God for many years, and yet I knew he continued to speak to me.  Finally I accepted my path, and prayed that I would “let God.”  Two weeks later I heard your voice and I smiled from my heart.  Thank you, God.

storytelling: I love you, Floyd

storytelling: I love you, Floyd

Sunday, December 30, 2012.IMG_3758

I woke up at 9am like most Sundays, walked the doggies, and started getting ready to go to church.

My church was not of an organized religion, but a circle of friends – young and old.

We would get together every Sunday, normally at Gary and Betty’s house, eat brunch, meditate, read inspirational works and discuss life.

During brunch, Gary and Betty shared with us the details of their Buddhist retreat trip in Hawaii and passed out some neat gifts they got each of us. They gave me a license plate frame that says, “I’d rather BE HERE,” from Ram Dass’ Be Here Now book and teaching.

After delighting with the company of good friends and before going home, Betty shared a poem from a book she read the night before, a poem by Hafiz, titled My Eyes So Soft.

Afterward I headed home, feeling a sense of peace and excited to install my new license plate frame.

I pulled into my col-de-sac and parked. I opened the garage door and as it rolled up, saw Floyd and EviePoe waiting for me in the house through the screen door, wagging their tails, excited to see me. I went to greet my Boxer and little Shorkie, and let them out of the house. We went to the side of the house searching through the toolbox so I could change my license plate frame.

As I was tightening the second bolt and beginning to feel good about my declaration, EviePoe started barking at a person in a wheelchair across the street. She began to run.

I yelled at her, calling for her to come back, but she was determined to bark face to face with the man in the wheelchair. Fear swelled through every part of my being, not wanting her to get hit by a car, and I started to run without thinking.

Being the obedient dog that followed me everywhere, Floyd ran too. He was a little ahead of me, about 2 feet, and as soon as we reached busy Parkside Avenue, I heard the screeching of rubber on tar and before a breath could come from my lungs, the bumper of a lifted Toyota Tacoma hit Floyd’s face and both the front and back tires ran over his body.

I never screamed and cried so hard in my life.

EviePoe was freaked out by the whole thing she was growling at the people that came near Floyd and me. Too afraid to move him, I placed my face on his and cried, asking him to let go and assuring him that I will be okay. I could hear the driver of the Tacoma apologizing and calling 911, asking what to do.

I couldn’t move away from Floyd, I couldn’t be apart from him for one second, I knew he was trying with all his might to hold on. Blood began to come from his nose and mouth, he kept gasping.  He was drowning internally, and I couldn’t stop screaming.

Someone was shaking my shoulder and I looked up into the eyes of a woman. She told me her name is Camilla and she helped me snap out of my shock and get in action. She told me to get my car and take him to the nearest animal ER.

I grabbed EviePoe and ran to my house, quickly told my family of the situation as I ran back out. I hurriedly drove my car over to the middle of the street on Parkside Avenue, grabbed Floyd and carried him to the car. I placed 70 lbs of dead weight tenderly on the back seat, explaining to him what I was doing.

I can still feel the heat from his blood all over my shirt and neck.

I started to drive to the animal ER in Chula Vista, trying to see through my swollen, tear-filled eyes, keeping control of the wheel with my shaking, bloody hands. I reached my right hand to the back seat and held his paw.

“It’s okay Floyd,” I cried, “please boy, please let go.”  At the top of my lungs, I kept begging him to stop suffering.

I got to East H Street in Chula Vista and I felt a calmness surround me. I stopped screaming and gained a composed breath.

Still squeezing his paw, I cried to him softly full of love and tears, “I am so sorry it’s all my fault. I should have known better. I should have been better. I love you. I am a better person having had you in my life. I know why you’re holding on, and I promise I’ll be okay, boy.”

I kept repeating, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

His choking was ceasing, and even though I was only connected to him from my right hand to his paw, I felt his release. He left.

The sky was filled with a dark haze of clouds and it began to sprinkle.

I reached the ER, ran out of my car, open the back door and carefully took his body out. A lady with a gurney met me and I placed his bloody, lifeless body on the cold steel of the gurney, and as we went inside, the sprinkle began to transform to rain.

Inside the ER he was pronounced dead.

They let me have a room with him and told me I can stay as long as I wanted. Camila and Keith, the driver of the Tacoma, were there, making sure I was alright and apologizing for my loss.

Keith was so grief-stricken and a huge amount of guilt was on him. I looked him in the eye and said, “I don’t blame you, it’s not your fault.”

Moments later my mom came running in, crying hysterically, holding the dead body of the best dog in the world, while I was trying to deal with the reality of the situation. During the next hour, my family members came to the ER to say goodbye to Floyd. He touched the heart of every single person in my family – and I was appreciative to see that.

While I stayed in the ER, my mom’s friend cleaned my entire car in the parking lot, making sure there was no blood left. Apparently, I left my car running with the keys in it, doors open.

It took me three hours to leave Floyd. By then it was late at night and the rain had stopped. My mom drove me home in my car. I felt lifeless, with the dried blood of my dog all over me. As we approached home, I saw that the rain had cleared the blood from the street.

I thanked God, knowing that the sight of Floyd’s blood on the concrete would have pulled me further into the storming depression that was forming.

I cleaned up and got into bed with EviePoe. I watched videos of Floyd on my phone and I let the tears run from my eyes. I could hear the words of Hafiz, from the poem that Betty shared today speaking to me:

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly,
let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,
my voice so tender,
my need of God absolutely clear.

I let this experience season me – praying for the gift of time, knowing that our memories can fade.

I can still see everything replay through my mind, but as time passes, the details become less vivid and the sounds less sharp. The falling of my heart becomes less painful and my eyes become less cloudy.

I know that there was only a matter of feet between EviePoe, Floyd and me. It could have been any of us that reached that street at that same time. It could have been me. But it wasn’t, it was Floyd – and I know he saved me.