Today I was driving home when I had a surprising visit with the car that was stopped next to me at a red light. (I say surprising, but in reality, I shouldn't be surprised one bit after a lifetime filled of these "surprising" interactions.)
As I was waiting at the red light, to my left I saw a couple and their child in their car staring at me. Thirty seconds later, I quickly made another glance out of the corner of my eye. They were all still staring.
I've been sick since Thursday night and today I really lacked the patience to deal with this kind of thing. Usually I'll stare back and smile - you know - to try and smoother others and their rudeness in kindness, "winning" in the end...But not today.
Today was a different story, as I eventually made full eye contact with the staring eyes. The wife quickly looked away, yet the husband still stared. I held eye contact for at least a minute, the guy's eyes not budging. (Seriously...This was probably the longest red light of my life.)
He stared. I stared back.
Normally my staring back in response usually does the trick to break other people's stares. But not this time.
I could pretend that I was kind in return to his rudeness, but then I'd be lying. I'd be lying to you by pretending to be a person who always responds in the correct and proper way, the kind way. I'd be lying to you by pretending to have all the right answers, all the right responses. But I don't have all the right answers. I don't always have the right responses.
As we had our staring contest, I made my hands motion to him the question, "What??" as I gave him a look with my facial expression saying, "Dude - what is your problem?? What are you staring at??"
Instead of looking away, he imitated my exact same facial expression and body movement - without breaking eye contact. A few seconds later I tried again, but his response was the same. (Think he would have done the same had I made funny faces at him instead?? Next time I'll have to give that option a shot!) It wasn't until I put my hand over my cheek, hiding my birthmark, hiding myself, that made him look away.
I was infuriated. Comments can sometimes be hurtful, but I think I find staring to be worse - at least at this stage in my life. (A hint for any guy who wants to potentially woe me...staring at my sparkling beauty is not the way to go! ;-) ) And although I acknowledge the hurt and frustration, I also have to make sure I don't allow people like this man define who I am and to try and take these situations with a grain of salt.
A part of me wonders if it is socially acceptable to say that I sometimes mentally high-five people in the face. Like I did today. (Even my thought process isn't always the greatest, or the most kind either.)
Although I've had a lifetime filled with these experiences and should probably expect them, I'm always surprised and in awe when they take place. I guess I always hope that the hearts of strangers will be kind and tender to others - not wanting to live 24/7 with my heart and mind constantly on-guard because of what people may say or do, just because of my appearance.
As I sit back and think about today's experience, I realized something...Something I've never really thought about before.
I think that people, like today's staring man, forget. They forget that they just as easily could have been me. The odds of them being born with a port-wine-stain birthmark covering half their cheek were as equal as my own. Although they were born "normal" - their "normalcy" could easily be taken away by one quick and simple, unforeseen accident. They forget, that if they were me, that they wouldn't want to be treated in the same way in which they have treated me.
People forget that their future child or grandchild could be just like me...Forgetting that they are the role model for their toddler, their child, sitting in the backseat of their car in the moment they are currently in.
They forget that one day, I may be a teacher to their child, a tutor, a friend, a mentor. They forget I may be someone who might make a much needed difference in their life, or a difference in this world.
People often forget I am a person...just like them.
Before you stare at others, or make fun of someone because they are somehow "different" in anyway, please remember...Remember that they are someone's child, sibling, and grandchild. They are someone's friend, mentor, hero. They are a person with talent, memories, experiences, and stories...with feelings, unseen scars, and unseen joys.
We are more than the surface of our skin, more than the differences that you instantly perceive by a quick glance or two minute staring contest.
The Travelin' Chick,
PS: On the bright side, I'm working on a couple of book ideas right now and the experience I had today gave me some good ideas to work with! It quite possibly helped me break through my writer's block. Yay for ideas!