Today was a travel day. Today was also a day were work constantly pinged my Blackberry and kept me mentally very, very, active. So ... I'm tired. Just a slice of life moment from today:
We stopped at the mall here in Timmins to grab a bite at the food court as the hotel room was not yet ready for occupancy. I rolled in and when looking for the washroom noticed that I was being stared at, hard. One of the best things about being home is that my 'difference' is 'normal' there. People have long since stopped being fascinated with how I look and how I move. Every time, that's every time, I go somewhere new I get a tidal wave of staring.
I felt the eyes on me. I only saw the fellow out of the corner of my eye and was convinced, wrongly, that he'd stop staring and look away.
I finally looked over to him with combat in my eyes. I saw a man, maybe 35 or 40, with Down Syndrome sitting at a table at the food court. He saw me catch his eye, then ... his face lit up with a smile and he waved. Friendly like. 'Nice to see you' like. 'Brotherly' like. 'Wecome to Timmins' like.
The smile hit my lips almost involuntarily. I nodded back, waving was out of the question as I was pushing myself. As soon as the greeting was done, he went back to his lunch and didn't look at me again.
I saw him, later, when I'd finished in the toilet and was sitting waiting for Joe. He glanced at me, recognition in his eyes, and went on. There was no need to acknowledge me further. He'd done his job. He'd made a stranger welcome.
It's a gift.
I had a similar experience this summer while grabbing a coffee at second cup. There was a child with his parent and he was doing the "hard stare". In the past, I returned hard stare for hard stare, but this time I tried something new: I simply smiled and gave a small finger-wave to the kid. There was a moments delay as this registered with him and then he too lit up with a happy grin.
I don't know why, but I felt absolutely thrilled with this response. With the hard stare, someone would look away in shame, as if confirming the fact that they should not register me personally. This radiating positivity, however, made me feel somehow lighter.
So while I occasionally return a hard stare with a bored "Are you kidding me?" eyebrow lift, I'm finding that I am starting to fall back on the smile more often.
Glad it was a 'good' stare.
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