When my favorite author passed me in a hallway, I froze on the spot. It was an average Sunday morning before church, so the bustle of people continued around me. I am not sure if it was my stunned expression or how long I was stuck there that convinced a volunteer that I needed help. He didn’t understand why I was so amazed that the Robin Jones Gunn had just walked by. With sympathy toward my stuttered responses, he offered to introduce me to her. It was only later on that I discovered he had no idea who she was and thought he was just introducing two people in the community. In truth he had let me offer gratitude directly to the woman whose stories changed my high school life, and are still my literary comfort food.
I didn’t recognize Patrick Dempsey until after he turned the corner inside LAX. I had been wandering the hallways before my flight home and smiled at the person walking passed, who returned the gesture. It was a few seconds later that my brain realized it was McDreamy…I mean Derek Shepherd…I mean Patrick Dempsey. Turning around I considered running in his direction and asking for a selfie or some other evidence that I had met a famous actor in LA (or maybe he could help me become famous too, not that I know how to act or anything). After a few moments reflection, I decided that the smiles between two human beings was a better memory than some paparazzi-move.
Stepping into Starbucks, I scanned the window benches for an opening. They were my favorite seats because of the soft cushioning and easy people watching inside and outside the shop. The two open spots were crunched between men who appears to be carrying all that they owned inside stained bags with sleeping bags strapped alongside. One man in the corner laid on the table, arm curled around an empty cup and face turned away from the customers. Another was charging a cell phone while reading a well-used book as his bags filled the floor and seat in front of him. At the other end was a man talking, but it was unclear if it was to a phone I could not see or a person that no one could see but him.
After picking up my tea and scone, I took a seat on the other side of the room instead; in one of the chairs that I had never seen empty before. With a floor filled with tables and people between us, I worked on some editing and during breaks would look up and wonder about these men and the lives that had gotten them to that shop that morning. I didn’t know these men. I wasn’t tempted to ask for an autograph, a selfie, or a key to the life of riches and glamour. But I did wonder about their stories. And about who they mattered to. These men might be famous somewhere, to someone. Are they being treated like it? Anywhere? By anyone?
“To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.