There are days when life is smooth and carefree and filled with joy, and there are days when things are more difficult, when frustration is more easily found than peace. Today was a day of frustration, as I journeyed out to explore an area of Brooklyn I'd not yet been to.
Between delayed buses and block after block of road construction, what should have been a one hour trip turned in to three hours of riding the buses and standing on the street waiting for the buses. Still miles from my destination, when the bus driver announced that we were delayed because of more road crews, I gave up, got off the bus, crossed the street and boarded a bus going back the way I'd come. Cursing barely under my breath, I retreat home.
Walking briskly from the bus stop around the corner from my house, agitated, angry and frustrated, I stand abruptly on the street corner, waiting for the light to change. All I want is to return home, and to pout and vent in the privacy of my room. Standing resolutely with arms firmly crossed, my New Yorker stance for don't mess with me, I feel fingers tap my shoulder and a soft voice beckoning, "Miss?"
I turn, exhaling loudly to share my annoyance at someone so callously ignoring my body language, and I look in to the ragged and worn face of an elderly man. Bent and holding a worn, wooden cane in his left hand to keep himself upright, his right hand holds a pale orange rose.
He smiles and places the rose in one of my hands, still stuffed beneath my taut arms so firmly crossed.
I shake my head, "I'm sorry, it's very beautiful, but I don't have the money for flowers today," I say. He shakes his head and points to the flower and to my mouth. "What?" I ask quietly, furrowing my brow and bending to meet his height so that I might better understand what it is that this stranger wants from me.
A large, toothless grin envelopes his entire face and he points first to his curved lips and then to mine. Thinking that he is asking for food, I uncross my arms and remove an apple from my bag with my free hand, clutching the delicate rose with the other. I gesture the apple to him and he shakes his head, again pointing to his lips and then to mine.
It is then that I finally understand. And I smile. And as my lips part to curve upward, my heart leaps in my chest, and I laugh. Now he nods fervently, shakes my free hand, points to my mouth one last time and waves a gnarled hand as he walks back down the sidewalk.
I'm stunned. And I'm embarrassed. And I'm ashamed of myself. Walking home with the rose nestled between my fingers, I feel myself softening. My shoulders drop and loosen and my shallow breaths become longer and deeper.
I don't know who he was or where he came from, this angel with the beautiful rose, but now, as I climb the steps to my front door, I notice the delicate green buds on the tree outside my window have burst open. And I hear the chorus of birds singing up and down the block. And I don't just hear them, I hear them.
With my rose nested in a vase of warm water and a hot shower having scoured the remaining dredges of my negativity, I dress and sip a cup of ginger tea. And, I begin this day again.