Well here we are with my second blog post about my time in LA.
Its weird because I feel like I have already grown so much from writing my last post to now. EXCEPT… here I am, sitting alone in the same Starbucks writing this. I know I know Dad, ” Stop spending all your money at Starbucks!” but you have to understand that I’m an 18 year old girl who has a serious problem with being addicted to coffee. Not even Frappuccino’s or lattes but simple black coffee with some cream and sugar.
Anyways.. I would like to share a little story about this man who inspired me to keep going and to think just a little differently than I was prior to meeting him.
So referring back to my previous blog post ( If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to take a peek ), you would know that I recently moved to Los Angeles and right off the bat I was not a fan of the city. Not the people, not the weather but the city itself. Just not my cup of tea. So about a week ago, I was sitting in this small coffee shop/café sketching and doodling and this older man asks to sit at my table. Of course I’m going to say yes, being completely unaware of the whole “don’t talk to strangers” lesson I learned back in the 1st grade. After maybe 3 minutes, we introduced ourselves to each-other and for his own personal privacy we will call him “James”.
James seemed to be in his late 50’s/early 60’s and he was wearing an old sweater with denim pants, which I found fairly odd due to the fact that its nearly 90 degrees here. After James and I said our hellos he then stated that he would not bother me and he just wanted to charge his phone for a few minutes.
Now let me tell you, this table we were sitting at was one of those tables where its supposed to be for two people but we all know that its really a table for one person with two chairs for the soul purpose of “mingling” so could say there was no personal space between him and I.
James then looks over at my sketchbook and asks what I am sketching. At the time I was just beginning to sketch a cactus, hence the word BEGINNING, so honestly when I told him a cactus he gave me a weird look because in his defense it really did look like an overly sized blob, but out of kindness and being polite he looked down and smiled at it.
So I continue to mind my business and sketch my cactus attempting to make it look more like a cactus and James started asking me questions. Again, being completely unaware of the whole stranger danger rule, I answered them and we started up a conversation. I proceed to tell him and talk about my reasoning for moving to LA and my goals in life and where I want to be. He seemed pretty impressed and he took a lot of interest into what I was saying. It was nice to have a little human interaction with a stranger because I have been hanging around the same group of people for a month now. We then started talking about music and art, which is always one of my favorite things to talk about. We started talking about the different types of dance out there and which one is my favorite and just simple small talk.
James and I then got on the topic of family. We start talking about how we both lost our mothers at a young age and the struggles we went through trying to adapt to life without a mom. He tells me that he was a 2 years younger than I was when he lost his mother which would’ve made him 14 at the time and he told me that life was very difficult due to the fact of having multiple siblings and a father working extreme hours trying to provide for the family.
The conversation didn’t last long and before you knew it we were back on the subject of school, dance and art. I told him that I was moving to New York City in the fall and we proceeded to talk about Broadway shows, which is another topic I could talk about for hours.
So about 45 minutes had passed and I realized that we had only talked about me and my personal goals. So I finally asked him what his goals are in life. I knew that was a weird question to ask because I knew he was a little older but I really didn’t know how else to word it. He chuckled a little and took a fairly long pause. Again, I didn’t know if he was offended by the question or if he was just thinking about it really hard. He looked at me and gave me the most unexpected answer. He said ” my goal in life is to change the world”. Definitely thrown off guard by that, without even thinking I responded ” how do you manage to do that?”
* For his own personal privacy I will not be sharing his story in detail, but let me tell you it was so inspiring*
James gives me a little bit of background history about himself and how he came to be living without a home. He talks about his struggle and how hard it has been for him. I was surprised that he shared his story with me because I’m just a kid. Scratch that, I’m just a stranger. Why would he open up to me about that. We then start talking about how the grace of God saved him and how he is trying to turn his life around. By the end of his story, I was in tears. I apologized for crying and he told me to “let it all out, but to not cry for him but to have happy tears for my blessings”. I was literally in shock when he said that. I couldn’t even wrap my head around the idea that this man who has no home, no family, and who has lost nearly everything, was telling me to be thankful for MY blessings and how he wanted to change the world. He talked about how he wants to spread kindness throughout the world and how he wants to be an inspiration to others.
He then reminded me how blessed I was. How blessed I am to be alive, happy and healthy. He told me that whatever situation I get into in life, good or bad, to remember to always spread kindness and have hope.
Just trying to take it all in, I sat there and listened to what he was saying in amazement. Someone who doesn’t even know me, someone I met an hour ago who again has no home, no family and no help from anyone really did change my outlook on life and my time being here. He told me to keep going and to keep pushing even on the hard days. The days where I’m missing home, the days where my body is so sore from dancing, the days where I’m feeling lonely, the days that seem so extremely hard are the days where I need to remember how blessed I am and to help others.
We continued to have a lovely chat about life and the many struggles that comes with it. He shared more stories with me and with every story he told me, he followed with a lesson learned from it. I could tell he had an education and he was very wise just by how he was talking. An entire cup of coffee later we found ourselves back on the subject of school and dance.
After the serious stuff was discussed, he reminded me to always eat almonds, to never be afraid to cry, to pray every night before bed and to do yoga at least once a week. He gave the name of a few books to read and he told me about this other small coffee shop that has really good pastries. We said our goodbyes and I thanked him for being a set of ears that would listen to me and for all the amazing stories he shared. After that I got up and left.
The rest of the day, the conversation I had with James was on repeat in my head. Just over and over again I kept hearing him saying “kindness and hope can always heal any situation”. I wish the best for him and I really hope he can pick himself up and start over in life.
I definitely contemplated on writing this because I didn’t know if I would be crossing any lines, especially since it wasn’t my story of his to share but he changed my perspective on life and I just hope that maybe he could change yours. A very wise man who is a complete stranger, someone who will probably never read this, inspired me and gave me motivation to keep pursuing my dreams and to have hope.
So together, you and I, we need to remember that on hard days, you know, the days where you want to lay in bed all day eating ice cream while crying into your pillow because life is hard sometimes, think of James and think of what he told me. That with kindness and hope, things will be okay. To count every blessing in life and of course… to always eat almonds. (He was really stressing that)
So here I am, completing my 5th week here in LA and I’m ready to see what the rest holds for me. So far my biggest struggle has been the stove and microwave always seem break when I need to use them the most and I’ve already had to call maintenance twice so fingers crossed we can keep that number under 3.
I have also been to two new ice cream places that might have possibly put Braums to shame. ( Totally kidding, Braums will always hold a special place in my heart ). Salt and Straw, where I had an Almond bark with dark chocolate and sea salt cone and then this local Vegan ice cream shop where I had Vegan Caramelized banana nut. Also, Speaking of Vegan… I’m highly considering transitioning into a vegan but I’m not sure if I can say goodbye to some of my favorite foods so stay tuned to see where this crazy idea takes me. There are exactly 13 days till I get to see Michael and I have never been more excited. Long distance is definitely not summer romance I was expecting but I’m telling you guys, with a little trust in each other, faith in God and of course FaceTime, we have made it work.
Remember as you go throughout the rest of your week to always be grateful for what you have. No matter if life seems to be at an all time low, think of James. Think of the stranger I met in a coffee shop who didn’t have a dollar to his name who changed my outlook on this experience completely. Think of the two small things you need in life, hope and kindness. Give someone in your family a hug today, hold the door open for a stranger and take a minute for yourself.