waiting on the front porch

she just stood there on the front porch waiting for her will to come and get her she was packed she had a suitcase full of noble intentions she had a map and a straight face hell bent on reinvention she was learning about please and huge humilities then one day she looked around her and everything up til then was showing and she wondered how did i get here without even knowing where i was going? ~ani difranco

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Location: montreal, quebec, Canada


Monday, November 06, 2006

two for the price of one

there was a man who came into the store yesterday who i cannot stop thinking about. he had this large portwine birthmark covering the left side of his face.

he was tall but kept his head bent. and right away my heart just ached for him. whenever i see people with a visible 'impairment' (wrong word, but whatever) it's like they just tunnel into the softest part of my heart.

my c.p. is mild. i've spent enough time with it, and learned to compensate enough with my good side that it is rarely noticeable, at first. when i was a kid, though, it was a different story. there are all these pictures of me holding my left arm against my side as though it was a broken wing, but at the same time, i hadn't learned enough to be self-conscious about it - that was the most natural position for it to be in.

but kids can be cruel. they never teased me about my disability (not that i can remember, anyways) - that was off-limits, but my thick glasses, shyness, and awkwardness were all fair game. by the end of grade school i just wanted to be like everybody else.
i saw that in the man who came into the store yesterday. right away something in me needed to connect with him, needed him to see that i saw the birthmark, accepted it, and treated him normally, but he couldn't look into my eyes. he brought his milk to the counter, and i did all the normal things a cashier does, and his eyes darted to my face, then down, to the side, back up.

and my heart just broke. i saw the young boy he must have been, at the corner of the playground, before he knew that there was something 'wrong' with him. looking at the other kids with such hope and eagerness and laughter. and getting that hope and eagerness punished out of him. getting laughed at. maybe a girl refused to go on a date with him. kids probably refused to be friends with him because it was 'social suicide'. so he learned; he learned not to look anybody in the eye, because then he wouldn't have to witness people's rejection of him.

in the glimpses i got of him, through his eyes, i saw someone incredibly sensitive. his eyes were brown and soft. and incredibly, incredibly apologetic. and that made me angry. angry that someone would be taught that he needed to apologize for something as literally superficial as a birthmark. angry that someone's self worth was damaged that much for something that shallow.
it started me thinking. about the stories we all own - the stories that make us who we are, that shape, colour, and shade us in. the stories that give us flesh and shadow. each of us has one - that's the fascinating part to me. the grumpy old woman at the bus stop, the cashier at the supermarket, the housewife, the 3m businessman, the lawyer, the homeless person - some people's are easier to guess at, but every one has a his/herstory that needs to be given space, that needs to be honoured.

(thanks very much to kerry...i was thinking about writing this post and then her post absolutely convinced me i should. she is truly inspirational, and if you haven't, you should visit her.)


Blogger ruby said...

oh, you beautiful, beautiful soul...

8:32 a.m.  
Blogger BendingPeak said...

:) Love the post. You are doing a great job of posting everyday!

9:06 a.m.  
Blogger Sacred Suzie said...

Oh you are such a lovely soul to be pulled to the people most others would reject. I feel compelled to talk to the people most ignored. This is something we should think about, what does this say Bee?

10:43 a.m.  
Blogger Deb R said...

Things like that always make me sad and angry too. I wish we (all people) could see the soul instead of just the skin.

11:15 a.m.  
Blogger Jessie said...

"the stories that give us flesh and shadow"

...this line alone speaks MAGNITUDES! it makes me want to write it in my journal as a prompt and then write and write and write until my pen runs dry.

this is some damn good writing, bee. i could imagine every detail and feel every emotion.

you are wonderful.

2:33 p.m.  
Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

I had already read Kerry's post before reading this. I loved it and like her, I revel in the wisdom you young ladies have.

If that man did happen to catch your eyes, I'm sure he saw your complete acceptance of him.

The love in you for all people is evident...you shine with it :D

love you pumpkin,
xox darlene

2:34 p.m.  
Blogger Amber said...

You are a beautiful soul! What compassion you have. What a gift that is to our world. And you made me really see him, and wish to take his pain away.


10:15 p.m.  
Blogger melba said...

I think about how I can teach my children to be open to everyone, to not treat people with disabilities in a demeaning way. Cartoons have helped open the dialogue. On this one show Pinky Dinky Do there is a boy with a wheel chair. Ethan (4)has asked me alot of questions about his wheel chair, even at times when we are not watching the show. I think this is a good thing. I think the exposure to people that look different than ourselves makes a huge impact.

6:52 a.m.  
Blogger Hulles said...

This was a lovely post. The image that struck me the most, though, was the very symbolic photo of you with a "broken wing." Thanks for writing this.

10:33 a.m.  
Anonymous ceanandjen said...

Oh my goodness, I do this all the time. I see people walking on the street, look at their faces, and wonder what they are feeling and what their story is. There are faces and body language in some of these people that tug at my heart. They seem to embody sadness and loneliness. They have deep souls and emotions just as everyone else does, yet they seem so lost.

Your example of the man in the store, and your reaction to him is so incredibly touching. You are a true loving soul Bee. You see the beauty in all, especially in those who might not see it in themselves.

10:40 p.m.  

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