I stood at the intersection of Music Hall and Washington Park with headphones partially plugged into my ears. So I didn’t hear fully what the older African-American gentleman standing nearby had mumbled to me.
That was not my normal disposition. In fact, I NEVER wore my headphones in the city.
However, it was still early and I was returning from a workout at the Y in the West End. I had been listening to a podcast of Corporate Talk with Charlie and Eva. I had been their guest and the interview was now posted online. All during my workout, through squats and planks and sit-ups, I had been slowly digesting the words of this woman who sounded so wise in the interview.
During the live recording of the show, Charlie and Eva and I had laughed and shared and dug deeper into my writing work, deeper than I had for some time. Reaching back to the far beginnings in ninth grade to present day poetry inspired by living in the city.
Writers have a hard time branding themselves. We’re just writers, we say, despite what the world of publishing wants from us and what FB and Twitter and Linkedin demands.
Writers have a hard time pushing their words onto their followers, risking it all for the sake of one, “like.”
But in that moment, while I stood at the intersection, a smile had snuck across my face. I liked listening to the woman in the interview. I liked her voice. I liked many of things she had to say. I didn’t experience any cringe-worthy moments. No gaffes, no snafus. Just honest talk about comparisons to Captain Kirk and Netti Spaghetti and courage and loss.
While I stood smiling, and marching my feet in place, the older African-American gentleman tapped on at my sleeve, speaking to me again.
“I said, you’re like Jesus today.”
I tugged at the earphones ‘til they fell from my ears.
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“I mean, you’re like Jesus today, looking all blessed with your smile.”
“I am,” I asked and said in return, “the same back to you.”
Then the light changed.
“Courage,” Host Charlie Lobosco had referred to, during the interview. “What you do takes courage.”
And I felt like the lion in Wizard of Oz, with certain courage bestowed upon me, setting my foot onto the sidewalk of this city and marking out on my own trail.
Well ahead of my fellow pedestrian, I turned back for a quick moment. My dimple had dipped deeper, forming a place on my cheeks to catch an even broader smile.