If you haven’t visited Venice Beach, California- it’s a special place. Along the Venice Boardwalk there are many street vendors and most of them are “Home Free.” Home free being what most would call “homeless.” While the residents here might not have a brick and mortar home, they do have a home and neighbors AND a beautiful back yard with a million dollar view. Just like you and me they they like to keep a nice yard and safe neighborhood, but more importantly they want to love and be loved. I’ve gotten to know, and learned a lot from, some Venice residents this week and this is the story of, Dom, my favorite.
Early Friday morning I went for a quick swim in the Pacific. On the way out I saw a lady pacing while wearing just pajamas and socks on the beach: head down and seriously searching for something in the sand. On the way back from the surf I saw her again- in full search mode. I said “Good Morning.” She looked up at me softly, but straight in the eye and matter-of-factly said “Thank you. I needed that.” Then instantly she went back to searching, pacing and scouring the sand. About 20 seconds later she yelled something to me, which I couldn’t understand because of a helicopter overhead. She yelled again—I could see the passion in her face, her mouth move, and her entire body lean forward with each word. I still did not hear what she was saying. I pointed up to the helicopter and gave her a “Sorry, I don’t know what you are saying” shrug. We both stood there about 50 feet apart staring at each other waiting for the helicopter to go. Then it did, and she yelled to me at the top of her lungs again: “WE ARE QUEENS BECAUSE WE KNOW LOVE!!”
Wow. I gave her a smile and a thumbs up. Then she immediately went back to searching and pacing again.
After lunch I saw her standing by her home on the Boardwalk. I walked up beside her and asked “Did you find what you were looking for?” As if she expected me to ask, and without looking up, she answered “no, but I found something else,” all the while continuing doing what she was doing.
She was a passionate young woman living in her own world… just like the rest of us. She seemed upset, even angry. I tried to connect and have a conversation, but she spewed back her story and her view of an unfair world. No matter how gentle and inquisitive I was, she continued on. It’s as if I could see her thoughts spinning a million miles an hour, her tongue not able to keep up, but doing its best. She was a human mannequin with a moving mouth, trapped by her thoughts in an apparent world full of hate towards her, towards those that came before her, and towards everyone that looked like her. There also seemed to be a lot of her own anger aimed toward people that, given the chance, might (probably) hate her. She definitely saw me standing there, but it seems she mostly saw my skin.
I could hear the love softly and fully embracing all of the fear and anger that spewed from her lips. I wanted to hug her and tell her we could be friends… There was no space for that at all. So I stood and listened, to the almost incomprehensible deluge of words falling from her lips like the water over ten Niagara Falls. Then I said it. Firmly, yet gently I said exactly what popped up to say… it passed over my lips almost before I realized it was there: “There is so much love in your anger…”
Poof! She instantly stopped mid-sentence, looked me straight in the eye and fiercely threw down the book she was holding. She then stomped off- yelling violently, her anger now full blow rage. She stomped and yelled at an invisible partner- circling around me several times. I reached for her once, she kept going as if I wasn’t there: round and round in rage. I stood quietly listening: waiting and wondering what might happen next.
Just as instantly as she started, she stopped while looking me in the eye- proclaiming “Look at this! It takes a white woman to understand me! You DON’T know ME!!! But you do!” (This is paraphrased because from that moment on, the words coming from her mouth were that of someone that might be described as a Buddha Protégé… much of it entirely too deep for me to fully understand)
Her words were beautiful and descriptive- she got it. She got life. She understood deeply so many ideas and principles that many can’t comprehend in a lifetime of searching and studying. She was passionate, strong, philosophical, and spoke the Truth. I was amazed and the only thing I came up with to ask was “How old are you?” She was 19. Unbelievable: 19 years old and living under a tarp on the beach in Venice, CA. Her short platinum hair sprinkled with sand, her complexion perfectly clear, but dusted with a life lived home free. Her clothes looked the part of living under a tarp, but now her face and expressions didn’t.
We spoke some more, I asked a few questions, most of which she answered. We connected. When I asked what she’d most like to do if she could do anything, her answer: “I want to change the world.” Given the chance I’m sure she will. She is trapped in her own beliefs (just like you and me). She told me all the reasons she couldn’t. I hoped and wanted her to know she could. She read me several of her poems, some of which I did not understand… mostly because she is wise lifetimes beyond her years and I could not wrap my mind around what she was attempting to describe.
She gave me her first name: Dom. I wanted to give her something more- all I did was wonder with her: “I wonder what it would be like; what you and the world would be like if the anger was left to lie and you came from love….” and that was it.
She asked for my Instagram name- I wrote it on the last page of her book of poetry because I knew she would keep that book with her. My hope is to stay connected and I shared this with her. I reminded her that she had the reigns and can find me anytime, but that it is up to her to take that step. I hope she does… I hope she takes many many more steps.
My bet is I learned much more from her than she will ever learn from me (these are just a few):
First, I learned to never skip a chance to say “Good Morning” 🙂
I learned connection comes in many forms.
I learned we can absolutely connect with anyone.
I learned that sometimes calling out the truth, even if it brings momentary rage, can connect people in ways that seem unimaginable.
Most of all- I learned we can all be:
“Queens because we know love.”
-Dom Venice Beach, California on January 19, 2018
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