• Chelsea Rustrum

A Choice to Be Awake

Updated: Feb 21

Last evening, I watched an advance screening of Linda Lovelace, the story of a porn star.

This was the directors cut and the story of a women who was regularly assaulted by her mother, ignored by her father and offered very little affection, love or compassion by anyone.

An older man swept her off her feet, quickly married her and then he started raping her, strangling her and began locking in her in hotel rooms with men that had paid to have sex with her. This groomed her for pornography where this man used her for his own selfish desire for money and fame. This is based on a true story… more here.

My heart raced throughout the movie. When it was over, I felt the burning injustice of the hand of cards we each get dealt. Why are some born into extreme poverty, others abuse and yet others… love and stability?

Right as I stepped outside the movie theatre and into a new reality, a beautiful older man with a dark tan, a long beard and dirty clothing approached me for money.

As I unconsciously looked away, I felt my heart strings tug.  I looked directly at him, into his humanity.

He had this lucid, sad look on this face as he beckoned:

“Could you just buy me some soup or something up at Mel’s?” and pointed a block up the street.

There was something very sweet and honest about this man.

I couldn’t say no.

So we walked toward Mel’s when we arrived, I motioned for him to come inside. I thought it would be nice to share a meal together.

When we entered Mel’s, there was a male host at the host counter and I asked for a table for two. The man looked at me and past my new friend. “For you” he said? And I’m sure I looked confused and slightly annoyed when I said, “No, for both of us.”

The host lowered his voice and continued “Well, we can only serve you. We can’t serve him.”

“What!? That has to be illegal or something.” I pleaded.

“We can’t serve them” and this time he looked past me, robotically repeating himself. He then pointed to a sign on the wall, which I sure was some rendition of ‘We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone regardless of…’

No emotion registered on this mans face.

Instead of being angry, I felt my heart beat faster and knew I had to reach this man – remind him of his own heart, to wake him into compassion. I didn’t expect the situation to change, but I wanted him to feel something… to care.

I looked directly into him with an expressive face and kindly asked, “What about your humanity? This is another human being?”

The host looked past us, so I repeated myself so that he could see the higher truth of the scenario, “What about being human?”

There was a point at which I felt his heart soften and saw his inner struggle to blindly follow out of his own desperation.

He diverted his eyes, looked down and I could almost see tears coming on as begged me to see that he didn’t have a choice, “This is my job… this issss my jooooob” his voice cracked, he looked down and couldn’t bear to be look at me any longer, nor be a part of the situation himself.

Although I was looking forward to a spontaneous meal with my friend, more intense emotions were at the surface.

We were rejected. All of us. I think we all felt this melancholy of inequality of being human, of choice… and quite frankly, I think we all felt misunderstood.

So we walked out.

“I’m not surprised” my new friend relayed almost compassionately in a wise tone.

I then pointed to a BBQ place across the street.

“Do you mind if I wait outside? Lots of fancy people in there.”

I nodded in agreement and asked him what he wanted.

When I was standing in line to order food, tears fell as the room spun. I felt so confused, yet open — so pained, yet connected.

When I walked out the door and handed him a bag of goodies including a full turkey dinner, he offered a sincere “Thank you” with that deep tone and honest eyes.

As I turned to walk a a different direction home, he continued “Take care.”

I instantly felt as if my care for him bonded a mutual compassion for the well being of one another.

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