I have reason to be grateful and I want to acknowledge a few of the merciful angels who have helped me recently.
Last week, my car started billowing smoke and died. At rush hour. On Laurel Canyon. (A winding two-lane road that you don’t want to be trapped on.) I am really fortunate that no car hit me, either while in my car or after exiting it. I called AAA and requested a tow truck. It was going to be at least half an hour and there is really no roadside, so every moment that passed was a moment I could get hit. But a big white truck that had been driving behind me pulled over and offered to help. These two guys used a rope—a freaking rope, to tie my car to their ball hitch, and towed me over the hill. They wouldn’t accept any money from me.
The next day, I needed to take an Über from the mechanic, where my car, I was to find out, was quite…screwed. The driver hopped out of the car and opened the door for me. In an Italian accent, he asked, “Ma Nishma…” (in Hebrew) “…Rahel?” (in Amharic.) Turns out he was an Eritrean man who had been raised in Italy since age 6. His cousin had worked in Israel for the Ethiopian Embassy. He had spent lots of time there. I was so grateful for his warmth. We had a long talk about what it’s like to be an outsider, and how we outsiders seem to find each other.
Yesterday, I was walking down Ventura Boulevard (a busy and populous 4-lane street,) around 11:00 a.m. when I noticed a homeless woman walking from the other end of the block. She was clearly troubled and seemed to be in an altered state due to ingesting some sort of substance. She was aggressively ranting and raving and coming toward me. It looked like she was directly addressing me, but I assumed there was no way that was the case, and that I was being paranoid. Regardless, I decided to cross the street and avoid any possible confrontation. Unfortunately, I was correct. She was indeed coming after me. She ran out into oncoming traffic on Ventura Boulevard, cars screeched and braked as she stood in the street screaming at me on the curb. She was coming at me, and I needed an escape route. I looked into the car nearest to me. I told them I did not know the woman and asked them for help. They did not know who I was or if I was safe. But they helped me. They let me into their car and drove me a few blocks until the woman got distracted and started off in the opposite direction.
And then there is my soul sister Kama, who has helped me out on a level so massive. It is massive beyond. Beyond. There are no words to capture my humility and gratitude. But in addition to this massive—extremely massive—assistance, there was this simple moment that rang with love. A few weeks ago, I mentioned offhandedly that I have been having weird cravings for foods that are processed and chock full of chemicals, specifically Cheez-Its and Coke Zero. My best guess is that it is an attempt to find security and stability; that they remind me of some earlier time, before I knew that all our food was poisonous and things made a little more sense. It was just a passing conversation.
When I arrived at Kama’s home for her baby shower, she had Coke Zero and Cheez-Its there. Just because she knew that it made me feel safe. This simple act of thoughtfulness made me feel so cared for.
Thank you, angels. I needed to feel less alone, I needed help. I needed to be accepted, to not be judged, or shamed, or told I was wrong, or scolded, or belittled. I just needed to be loved. I look forward to the opportunity to pay it forward. Thank you, thank you.
Photo: A Helping Hand by Damian Gadal