i’m new to the neighborhood.
so i’ve been making a point to remember things, activities and people in my still unfamiliar surroundings.
train whistles cutting through dark hours.
stray (roaming?) dogs hurrying down busy streets.
baked bread colliding with gasoline.
guitar-tuning two doors down.
i especially pay attention to faces.
i believe most of us spend the majority of our lives comparing faces. it’s sad, that one’s happy. this one’s friendly. that one’s intimidating.
we wear our attitude on our faces. whether we like it or not, that fact is undeniable.
of course, even though we may not be able to change the way our attitude is reflected, we can change our attitude.
[insert flashback to 6th grade: my mom got my report card, took one look at the unsatisfactory line of Cs and one D and told me to “change my attitude” at once. i spent the rest of the evening sulking.]
i’ve spent a lot of my time and conscious effort talking myself out of a hideous mood. i am fortunate that, though my moods are sometimes awry, i am generally an optimistic person.
and though i hope to always convey that attitude in my face, i have been known to miss the mark.
a few weeks ago, i was caught mid-mark-missing by a complete stranger.
she wore a gray hoodie, black sweatpants and walking shoes.
and she traveled in an electric wheelchair.
my head was down, at first, as i toted a bag of garbage to a nearby dumpster. i walked hurriedly, as i was running late for work. i tossed the trash and turned on my heel. i noticed right away that she was smiling. and laughing.
but it took me a bit longer to realize that she was smiling at me.
i heard her shout something from across the street that separated us. “pardon me?” i asked.
“i said, ‘smile! it’ll make it easier!'” she laughed.
i smiled in response to her’s. “thanks! you’re right!”
and as she passed, i turned to watch her disappear down the road.
what she saw: furrowed brow, frown, hectic stride.
and she suggested i change it. for my benefit and for the benefit of those whose paths i would cross.
attitude is contagious. cliché, i know.
but her’s most certainly infected me.
and released me from my negativity.
i’ve seen her three times since that morning, and every time is exactly like the first.
we exchange smiles, pleasantries, attitudes. then we go about our respective days.
and i’m always happy to see her again.