Red wagon

Red Wagon

Life. With all of its ups and downs, is so uncontrollably enjoyable at times I can hardly contain my laughter. It’s good to laugh. Healthy even. With a name like Ciprian and a Florida phone number, he had to be White, right? He was traveling by train and bus to purchase my Red Radio Flyer wagon. He called me a few times on the phone as he was trying to navigate his way through the South Bronx to find my carefully tucked away house just beyond the Castle Hill projects. I almost felt bad for him, traveling all this way for my 22-year-old vintage dust collector. He could hardly hear my instructions through the blazing police sirens and low flying airplanes. He would have to walk past the dime baggers and street beggars camped in front of the infamous “blue store” which now displayed a green marquee. It was still light outside so he would be okay…for now. I assured him I would stand outside and watch for him. I was expecting a White, pimple-faced kid, possibly traveling with a friend, or even his mother, to help him with his purchase. It seems to be the Craig’s List norm these days to travel lengthy distances by train and bus to cash in on that posted bargain. I find myself surprisingly impressed by their strong will and determination. If I can’t drive my car to it, I’m probably not going. Not because I’m lazy. I just prefer to be in control of my own commute. When I walked outside, I noticed him immediately. He was looking up at the houses, trying to locate the misplaced address numbers. I caught his attention by waving just as he was lifting his cell phone to his ear. To my surprise, he wasn’t White.

In the distance, he appeared Middle Eastern, if that’s even the appropriate terminology. Up close he was more of a Lenny Kravitz/Malcolm X combo. He had a full James Harden-like beard and was donning a black tam hat with a backpack. He had fitted, not skinny, black pants and a button-down shirt. He was about 6’1″ and 165 at best. It’s amazing the details you remember when someone catches your eye. Oh, and his teeth were perfectly white and straight — braces straight! He was “silly woman” cute.

There’s a “silly woman spirit” referred to in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:6) that often reminds me of my former silly self — the me that fell for everything! She saw, she savored and she sought after her every male fancy. She was so gullible. This guy, this not-White guy, reminded me of Khalid and the first day I saw him practicing Tai Chi in front of his house with no shirt and no shame. Khalid wasn’t one of those tasteless rude boys that whistles, blows kisses or shouts for a woman’s attention. He was a nice guy, a little quirky, but nice, and he was wrapped in the chiseled body of Greek god! We met, we loved, I had a son. We fought, he left and the rest is a history best forgotten.

So back to Ciprian…the wagon was in plain sight for him to look over. He liked it and was definitely interested. I cautioned about the heaviness of the metal and asked if he was sure he could manage it on the bus and train. His machismo pride chimed in that it was “light” for him and that he transported either a 7 foot or a 70 pound mirror on the train before, or something to that effect. He added that he was “strong”, much stronger than he looked. (Who said I was looking?) That’s the kind of thing Khalid would say to emphasize his manhood. Back when I was a silly woman, my mind would have taken off in a hundred different directions, thinking that he said what he said to impress me or for some other Venus-laced reason. Today, I can respect that this is just “a guy thing” and it’s important for their gender to assert their strength and dominion whenever possible, even if it’s just pointing out their painstakingly concealed manliness.

I can’t remember exactly how our conversation expanded from the wagon but we engaged in friendly small talk beyond the purpose of our meeting. He warned me of the dreaded Florida economy and the rising cost of living. Just once I would have liked to meet someone who didn’t have a doom-and-gloom message about my future home state! I could sense he wasn’t trying to scare me, he genuinely wanted to help. He asked about the kind of work I did, where in Florida I was moving to, what my son wanted to study in college, etc. In return I learned he was a student-athlete in track, he had a vigorous workout schedule that required him getting up every day at 5 am, his grades suffered slightly because of it but his tuition was paid in full by scholarship. He named about 5 different places he had lived in, including the Bronx and New Jersey. He was a Special Education teacher in the City and was working towards his MBA. He loved the City life, had strong ties with his frat brothers and he just turned 24. Yes, just 2 years older than my eldest son. Ewwwwww! Before you get all grossed out on me, it’s not what you may be thinking. It was just one of those uncontrollably lighthearted, pleasant encounters that I’ve grown to cherish and appreciate in life. At one point I shared my plans to work from home as a travel planner and taking some time to write. Not knowing much else about me, he said I should definitely do it. It’s so refreshing to be encouraged! He added that he was a passionate writer and carries his laptop everywhere he goes. Of course he does. All the great ones do. Ergo the backpack.

There are some people you meet along this journey that inspire you, motivate you, make you laugh and smile from ear to ear, and leave you wanting more — wanting to know more about them and wanting to glean from any goodness they have to offer. This not-White boy was one of them. He was intelligent, endearing, witty and yes, a bit quirky. And then he left, red wagon in tow, squeaking and rattling down the cracked concrete road. Good luck to you also Ciprian! It was truly a pleasure meeting you.

Ready to get away?


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