I went to Haight & Asbury today and seen all the street kids, and Jimi’s (Hendrix ofcourse) house. Jimi’s house has been turned into a smoke shop, but the Haight is still as full of street kids as it ever was.

I gave a dollar to a boy who claimed he needed it for the bus. I gave all the change in the bottom of my hand crocheted bag to a couple of rough looking individuals — a guy and gal– with their dogs. When I handed the change to her she passed it over to him, and that took care of that. After that I was plumb out of spare change. I walked past many signs and many young people like myself who looked like they could use a spare dime. One sign in particular made me chuckle,  it said “I bet you $1 you will read this sign.” I laughed and I pointed at the kid holding the sign, I said “you’re right” and continued on. I turned around realizing the sign had been asking for money and I said “but I don’t have a dollar.”

I walked on. I walked around the block. I checked out the shops. Haight & Ashbury is an interesting place. The buildings are gorgeous, the street art fantastic.  The most run down looking house is 1524 Haight, a smoke shop.. Jimi’s old house. I walked into a few stores. I bought some postcards and a Jimi Hendrix patch. I finished walking, I was ready to rejoin Little Wing, so I turned back the way I came. The corner where the boy sat with the sign that challenged me was on the way back, so I saw it again. I smiled and pointed, and said “I still don’t have one.”

He raised his hand for a high five as he gave me a smile. He was sitting so his hand was at waist level, and I reached down and we made contact. As I crossed the street I heard him say something, I’m not quite sure what it was. I turned around and he was holding a different sign. He had turned his body so he was facing me as I walked away and he held a sign that said SMILE,  and I did. I gave him the biggest smile and I coupled it with a laugh. The joy that boy gave me with that simple sign, it is still filling my gut. The butterflies tickle and the smile wrinkles on my face crease when I think of it.

I walked back to Little Wing. I started  the disassembly of my town walking outfit — taking off my shoes and bag —  and started the reassembly of my riding outfit. As I unwrapped my bag from my shoulder and checked the contents my hand came out with the half ate chocolate bar I had bought earlier. Dark chocolate and orange peel, one of my favorites. Hard to go wrong with citrus and chocolate. As I held it I realized I had no good place to store it without it melting and I concluded that it was no longer in its best interest to stay in my posession. I shod my feet in my boots. I dawned my jacket, helmet, and gloves, and Little Wing and I made our way to the corner where the word SMILE had so boldly been displayed minutes earlier. I approached the boy with the sign, “Do you like dark chocolate?”


“Here then, this is for you.”

The boy held out his hand as I dropped the half eaten chocolate bar into it, and a smile as big as the one he had caused me spread across his face, “Thank you!” he said thrilled, as he broke off chunks of chocolate. It was clear he was trying to savor it, but he was hungry so it disappeared fast.

“Thank you for the smile” I responded.

There is nothing better than giving back the joy someone gave you. It merely doubles the cheer.



I bet you one dollar you read this


3 thoughts on “SMILE

  1. I love reading your blogs! i lived just blocks from Haight Ashbury for about 5 years in the 90’s. interesting place. the street kids are entertaining and even charming …..for about the first 3 weeks.
    be safe and have fun. i am still really close with my old roommate (a 65 year old woman from duluth originally). i bet i could convince her to put you up for a night or two. headed south? if so go to santa cruz. on the way down there are two youth hostels that are in old light houses. most incredible 15 bucks (it was 15 years ago anyway) you’ll ever spend! Pigeon point and montara i belive they are called. in santa cruz there is a clothing optional family spa called Kiva that is a fun place to walk around naked in these beatiful gardens and lay around and read a book and snooze in the sun. biglibrary of books to read. seriously, have you ever been naked in a library? very liberating on several fronts….
    seriously, you are an incredible writer. when you return i think you should pursue some writing degree. not that it will make you a better writer, but it will open doors for you that might not otherwise been openable.
    I’m serious about my old roommate.


  2. Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with me! As I prepare for Thaksgiving, I thank God for you!
    How awesome that a little girl could grow to be so big, yet stay so little! It blows my mind!
    Love, Judy O’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s