It had been a most exhausting day of dealing with fake, phony – frivolous folk. My desire was to simply get home, shower, and pour a glass of red and sit – still after exchanging pleasantries to my significant other. But the traffic on south main was not having it. It was dreadful. The lines seemed to stretch for miles and it too seemed that I was getting stopped by every light en route to the South Main/610 expressway. Usually, I am listening to soft music or talk radio while I am driving but I was mentally – drained. My synopses were not in the condition to fire deep questions and thoughts. The radio was silent. As I drew nearer to the stop light, I heard the great melodious voice of the great Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. As I inched closer to the light, the voice got louder and louder, but someone was singing along with Aretha.
As I continued to look, scanning forward, left to right, I then saw where the music was coming from. About two cars ahead of me, at the bus stop, standing and swaying side to side with one hand snapping fingers to the rhythm and lit cigarette in the other, a homeless, middle-aged, full-figured, Caucasian female singing, “Aint No Way…for me to love youuuu…If you won’t let meeeeee…”. I tell you I could have literally bawled. In an instant, my strength returned, the traffic didn’t matter and all I wanted was to get closer. As I inched closer, she swung healthy hips from side to side and with one quick jerk of her head, threw her long blond hair from her face and continued, “…It Ain’t No Way for me to give you all you neeeeedddd…If you won’t let me give all of meeeeee …..” I smiled and was nearly pushed to tears. As I and others continued to stare at this blissful performance, she continued as Aretha continued to sing in the background, “…Oh, but how can I, how can I, how can I give you all the things I cannnnn, If you’re tyyiiiing both of my hannndsss, Oh, it aint no waaayyyay….” With another quick jerk of her head, she threw her hair back looking towards the sky taking a puff of the cigarette as the chorus chimed in, “Aint no waaayyy, Aint no waaayyyay,…”
About this time I was right next to her and I had rolled both my front and rear passenger windows all the way down and yelled, “GIRL YOU BETTA SING!!” My interruption brought her out of her deep rumination. Leveling her gaze, she smiled saying, “Aint’ no way, baby!” and I, “Ain’t no way, darling, it just Ain’t no way!” She nodded shyly, waving the cigarette and continued signing, “Stop trying to be someone you’re noootttt…” . About this time, the light was now green, I traveled on.
As long as I live, I will never, not ever forget that moment in time. I, a successful, educated, traveled professional was driving home stressed and disgusted. And she, disheveled and displaced with all of her belongings in a red grocery cart listening to Aretha Franklin on a small portable boom box with her cigarette in hand – was in a state of bliss. As I neared her, I fumbled through my wallet and briefcase trying to find cash. Had I cash on me, I would have given her everything I had. Whatever the amount, it would have been meager. For what she demonstrated to me in that moment was that we create our own heaven or hell. She had created her own heaven! And as I drove off, I said to her, “Thank You!” – Period, Case-Closed.