Saturday, July 17, 2010

She Smoked 'lite' Cigarettes and Drank her Wine with Water

I was determined to make the most of my time in Prague, but, since I’ve gotten here, all I can do is read this book that an acquaintance turned me on to. Sitting on the metro car, all I was doing was reading the book; sometimes with pods in, sometimes out, while I walked and while I sat. I was entrenched in the story of the people’s lives so distant from lives like mine. Rooting for the protagonist and crying for hurt, I realized that, while reading can be a great thing, I was missing hundreds of opportunities to see people, see their hearts, and help them. Of course my only mission on Earth: to love God and love people.

And so it began...

Sitting in the subway, reading, God spoke to my spirit, “put your book down and look around to help someone.” I said, “ALL RIGHT” in frustration, thinking it was some huge act that God was pushing me towards, knowing he just wanted me to see the people and love them. So I asked God, “Show me who you want me to love.” The first person I saw was a 20-something sitting 10 feet from me listening to music with a handkerchief on his Tupac memorializing head. I thought if I told him that no one wore bandanas like that anymore, let alone at all, and he’d take it off and stop looking stupid. “Love, not judge” came a nudge.  I thought about easy ways I could start up a conversation with him. Yo man, what are you listening to, or you like Tupac, you got a cigarette, or any number of millions of ways to start a conversation. I sat in my seat watching. He was listening to some sort of hip-hop the way he was bopin back and forth. He wanted to be American with every ounce of his body; a cross between an 80’s thug wigger and a poser skater. This wasn’t the guy I was going to love. I prayed that he would find his way to someone that could show him the truth.

As I rode, I looked at all the passengers onboard, asking for someone to stick out to me. No one did. I got off the stop and realized that I was riding the wrong way for two stops. I cursed under my breath at how easy the metro system in Prague was and wondered, after two weeks, how I could still mess it up. I was in no rush and nothing pressed my time. I saw this Asian couple worn out from what looked like a hard day of work. The man looked disheveled, old, tired and the woman’s lips curled down as she attempted to rest with her head against the metro car window. “Do you want me to give them money Father?” I only had 350CZK in my wallet and didn’t want to offend them by giving them money. I sat and watched and didn’t feel like I should do anything. I got off the metro and headed up the escalator, this time, at the right stop. I was going to a get-together my TEFL friends were having before they went out.

I got onto the escalator and saw a woman carrying a heavy box, something she bought at the store. I decided I was going to help her carry it. I said can I help you carry your box and picked it up while she was answering. She said “that’s okay” in broken English. I walked and so did she. I explained to her that men were made to carry heavy things.

 I followed her to the bus carrying the box and we took a 35 minute ride outside of town to her apartment. Along the way we chatted about America and Prague, and why she knew the English she did, and other various crap that two strangers talk about who meet randomly on a subway escalator asking to carry something for the other.  “How I’m going to get home.”  The metro stopped at 12 and I had no idea where I was going.

I told her I want to help carry the box to her apartment. She said I don’t understand and I said I will carry till you say stop. She understood, smiled genuinely and we rode. We finally reached her stop walked 100 meters, elevator to floor seven. As I said goodbye she asked me if I wanted to get a drink. I said of course and we walked to a little bar right next to her complex. I got a beer; her, a wine and water. Her English was much better when she could hear everything I was saying in the lack of the metro. We spoke of her family, her work, and astrology. She commented how I was a bull and her, a lion. I thought all of it was bull but didn’t jest. We smoked cigs and chatted about the label on the warnings on the cigarette packages. Kouření může zabíjet. She tried to assure me she was a healthy person that smoked. I told her everyone in Prague smoked and that I didn’t care and don’t judge her, as I ironically lit another. She asked my age and I replied “25,” she said “you’re young” and I shook my head and shadowed “I’m young.”  “You?” “36.” I explained my curiosity and how I didn’t understand that no one in Czech had a beard like mine and she said I only saw tourists. We sat for over an hour; she paid, out of her waitress salary, much to my refusal, and said I could get the next one. She walked me down to the bus stop. I got her number and said goodbye. I thanked the Lord for a good night in Praha 10. The sad thing is that this isn’t an everyday occurrence for me but rather the exception to my life.

So why the story? Not because I want to impress you with my ability to make friends with strangers (there are other people much better than I), not to brag about doing something good (that didn’t take that much sacrifice), not to have something to blog about (even though I haven’t been able to write a good blog in months), not to brag about being in Praha while you’re not (even though it’s not as amazing as you would think). I tell the story for the simple reason to show you that people are people everywhere. They need help doing everything. You have the power to help them. God loves you and wants to use you to love others.  The exception is going to become the rule for me in my life. Love. War.

Things to think about:
-The best board game on the planet.  Trying to be impartial.
-How to communicate with someone that doesn’t speak your language
-My emoticon would have a beard. :-l}

Things to listen to:
My man Michael Gregory:
My man Michael Alvarado

Things to read:
We're in over our heads - real time debt clock

Other possible titles for this blog:
-“Melina and I smoked our lungs to death”
-"An Endless Supply of Beer and Cigarettes at my Disposal"


LBanik said...

Thanks Page... I appreciate you posting that. I know that the need for help surrounds me but, I never pay attention to it... or push the thought away replacing it with what I need to do or accomplish. Your blog is always an inspiration to me.. it kinda serves as a way to remind me not to ignore the better person inside of me and embrace the world around me and what I can do to make it better while I am here. It helps me recognize the main purpose of why I'm here... to serve god to the best of my ability. I must not forget that.

Unknown said...

Laura, thanks for the encouragement. There are so many times that I forget that people are around me and are so much more interesting than me. I love culture and I love that you like my blog. cheers.

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