Last year we took on a massive road trip, as in Illinois to St. Louis, To Memphis, through Arkansas to Texas, hung out there for a week and then onto New Mexico, Arizona and finally California!!! #1 Traveling Companion has been to L.A. several times for business, this was our first time; what an education that was! I am sure because of the weather, the homeless population is more prevalent there. It was extremely saddening for me to see this, when we supposedly live in a country that has so much. On our first morning in L.A. we knew we would hit the obvious, Hollywood Sign, Mann’s Chinese Theater, and Venice Beach. It was here that I sat and had Homeless My Conversation.
#1 Traveling Companion, F, her girlfriend, Bebe and I strolled up and down the boardwalk along side the beach. It is an amazing eclectic collection of just about anything and everything. Just take a look at the pictures, it says it all.
As for “Muscle Beach” pleeeeaaase. It is just like a nude beach, those that are there really should not be; there are some things that I will never be able to un-see. I have an aversion to clowns, and yet felt the need to sit by this one and have my picture taken.
After strolling with the girls for about an hour, we set them free to explore on their own while #1 and I went in search of lunch. We came upon this awesome restaurant The Fig Tree Cafe , it had everything we were looking for; good food, brilliant atmosphere and a wonderful view.
After lunch we took in more of the sights, sounds and experiences. The older girls had brought their guitar and ukulele to play, and #1 Traveling companion and Bebe were dying to get in the water. After a few minutes discussing who, what and where, #1 and Bebe took off for the water, and I sat and watched the girls play. They became street performers for an afternoon and enjoyed every second of it.
It was here that I was approached by this fine young gentleman, and he asked if he could sit next to me and rest for a while. What more could I do or say other than of course you may, it would be my pleasure. After about 2 minutes he turned to me and asked if I was having a fine day. Now was my opportunity to chat. Of course I was having a fine day. I was in L.A., I was on Venice Beach and the sun was shining, I then turned the tables on him and asked if he was having a fine day. He was, he had eaten a full breakfast, he had earned his money for the day and now he was relaxing with the most beautiful woman he had seen in a very long time. Insert *Blush*…..
I asked him how long he had lived by Venice Beach and he said ever since he got back from the war. He seemed old, but I was not sure how old and asked which war; to which he replied Vietnam ma’am. I informed him of my first name, and asked that he used it rather than ma’am, and he introduced himself as the Shaman of Venice 🙂 Quiet fitting I thought, he then went on to tell me his story of how he was Native American, went to war, came home and just could not get back into the swing of society.
He had fallen in love with the freedom of the Ocean and moved onto the beach. We then went on to discuss how the beach had changed over the decades, and that bit by bit the overall atmosphere of the area was being lost. He was afraid that within a few years, he and others would not be able to call it home anymore. It broke my heart to hear him talk of this, as his eyes had lit up with such a passion when telling me the history of the beach. The city wants to clean it up, but fails to understand that tourists come here to see exactly what I had seen.
A little bit of everything from bohemian life, Muscle Beach, skateboarders, roller blades, kite fliers, artists, sculptures and so much more….. We chatted for quiet a while more about everything and nothing, I had the feeling he was enjoying my company as much as I was enjoying his. He introduced me to several of his friends as they strolled by, and they were quick to remind him that he needed to be somewhere by a certain time for dinner.
At the end of our chat he asked if he could share with me, I was not sure what that meant but agreed. We stood and he placed his forearm on my and gripped my arm and told me to do the same. He then proceeded to tell me, that while I had traveled a great distance in my life, it was time to stop running and enjoy the life that I had been given. He also told me that the struggle that I had been in with my oldest daughter was worth it, and that she was going to do well. He said that I loved with all my heart, and that those who felt my love were lucky and to never loose faith in that and to hold it dear.
By the end of what he had to say, I was in tears. I have no idea how he did that, but he touched me in a way that was so heart wrenching. All that he said was true…. I will let you ponder that for a while.
We snapped the image together, and wished each other a beautiful journey full of love and peace, and with that he was off with his home underneath him to grab his dinner.
I sat there for a while longer, keeping the girls in my sights and watching the overall view of Venice Beach change from one of tourists to one of the young homeless crowd settling in for the night. I watched the sun start to set, and I was grateful that I had taken the time to listen and hear him. I was grateful for that hour, and for sharing time and space with him.
The homeless are humans too, and by the grace of the day I am spared wondering where I will lay my head tonight. I am a better person for taking the time to be me and listen to his story, and I am grateful.
Taking the time to realize they are human, and seek out human interaction. My time on Venice Beach and the conversation that I had, is one that I will not forget. Thank you Shaman, thank you…