Compassion is something I have been thinking of a lot lately. This particular venture of #1000Speak has made it more prevalent in my mind, but my daughter goes to a school where many of the teachers tend to lack compassion for their students, this disturbs me. However, hearing how many of these teachers deal with students from my own child and other children and parents got me thinking about the times people have shown compassion to me in my life.
I have a story, it is a very personal story. It is about an event at the beginning of my marriage, of really my life as I will come to know it, where the compassion comes from two different sources. Part comes from my fabulous parents, the other from people who are total complete and utter strangers whom I feel were put at this exact spot, at this exact time just for me. Many of you have never heard this story, even if you are very close to me. I have kept this even somewhat secret mostly because once my mother reads this she will probably call and yell at me, but it is an event that occurred 15 years ago and I had to use instinct to determine if it was an okay situation to put myself in....so, enough with the mystery...read on.
My husband and I were married when I was 18, he was 20. Fast forward, we have our daughter and in March of 2000 he gets stationed temporarily in California, not anywhere amazing like LA or San Diego, but Lompoc. Yes folks, Lompoc, California. Most of you probably don't even know where in the hell that is, nor should you. I didn't...and honestly, I didn't care.
Having spent 19 years of my life in the great state of Florida with little major traveling I was anxious to get out. I had always had a bit of wanderlust since Geography in the 7th grade and I knew that one day I would leave Florida and move to another part of the continent if not the world-I know, my poor mother.
So, as soon as this station happened I knew I wanted to go. This was for school for him so technically I wasn't "allowed" so we used our tax return to make the move and supplement our income. I knew I probably should have stayed back in Jacksonville, my home town, but I didn't know where the next station would take us. My entire life I had dreamed of seeing California, going to Disneyland, seeing many of the things I had seen on television and in magazines that had got my imagination going. So, come hell or high water, I.Was.Going.
My mom, she was sad. Not only had I married, moved out, and had a baby really young, but now I was literally moving across the country. But, she is a big person and even said her and my dad were really proud that they had raised children who weren't afraid to strike out on their own and make their dreams come true. So, mom showed me how to woman up and really helped me get ready. She helped me move out of my apartment, stored all of our household goods, and got me organized and ready to travel by train across the great US with a 4 month old.
So, lets recap. I'm 19, not even married a year, have a 4 month old, traveling by train to California.
My mother really did it up for me and the kiddo. She bought me a nice carry on bag, she bought me plenty of formula, lots of bottled water, baby food, and tons of my favorite snacks and juice boxes (don't laugh, I was still 19 ;)). This was incredibly kind and is something I have never forgotten.
Once we are on the train (mind you I had to kick my father off haha), we traveled and I actually ran into a girl I went to high school with who had left years before. So funny where life brings you, so we traveled together until Texas. I then met a nice older couple that I had breakfast and dinner with whose story was somewhat similar to mine. She kept telling me what an adventure my life would be...she was right ;)
After arriving in Los Angeles, we were 8 hours behind schedule. This older couple helped me load my luggage and the gentleman ran ahead to let the next train know I was on my way over and not to pull out, I load up on that train and a couple of hours later get off at the Lompoc train stop.
I step out and I see behind me Pacific Ocean and in front of me...CORNFIELDS!!! The first serious WTF moment of my life. So, I start to load up on the bus to go into town and am told it is full and I need to call a cab. Stress level rising.
I go to the pay phone (it is 2000 people) and the cord to the phone is cut.
So, to recap I am in the middle of freaking no where, the last bus of the day to town is full and I can't call anyone. Oh yeah, and I have a 4 month old!
I start looking around quite panicked begging the bus driver to let me on or come back or give me a phone when a nice little old lady walks over and asks me what is wrong. I am half sobbing half yelling because I have no idea what I am going to do. All I could think of is what sort of mess have I managed to get myself in to.
So she takes me by the shoulders and brings me to meet her husband, they calm me down, get my story and tell me a bit about themselves. They were there because apparently, this was the best place in the city to see the sunset. After a bit they offered to take me to the base-my end destination.
The 80's child in me freaked. Millions of missing child posters flashed before my eyes; runaway train played through my head. All I could imagine is my mother screaming and yelling at me, but I was sort of out of options. Unless some other people with a cell phone or a taxi just happened to come out to see the ocean after the sunset I was going to sit at that train depot (with no attendant this was tracks and a platform, and a broken payphone) outside in the middle of cornfields by myself all night. So, I explained how hesitant I was. They understood and had a cell phone they said I could call a taxi or to save some money I could hold on to their cell phone while they drove me to the base. I called a phone number to make sure the phone worked and graciously took their sweet offer to drive me to the base. After talking with them for nearly an hour I felt no fear, no bad vibes.
Off we went and they gave me a tour of the area around the base and when we pulled up turns out this guy was well known on the base they let us on through and he dropped us right in front of the dormitory my husband was living in and let me use the phone to call inside and let him know I was there.
I was such a mess, those people did not have to help me, but they did. I have always remember the love and compassion I felt that day. The only thing they wanted in return was for me to pay it forward someday. I still haven't done my pay it forward deed, but someday it will come and I know I will know that moment, until they I try to be compassionate to everyone I meet and know they are fighting some sort of battle and know a little compassion can go a long way to help them through their tough times.