Yesterday, Talisha joined me on the paratransit bus I was riding. The driver said, “hi Talisha,” as though he was glad to see her.
“Beautiful chair!” she exclaimed, looking at me. Talisha exclaimed everything in a musical singsong. I don’t think about my wheelchair as being beautiful, but I soon learned more of Talisha’s worldview.
“Beautiful boots,” she said about my orthotics.“Beautiful jacket!” she told me. “Purple!” She was right about purple. She sat down in the first row of bus seats.
“Thank you,” I responded. “Beautiful hair.” She was a tall, African-American girl, with her braids crisscrossed around her head.
A block later, she waved excitedly. “Mom!” She turned back to me, patting her chest. She pointed out the window and then to herself. ”Mom,” she explained.
A few blocks later, there was more excited pointing. “George’s house!” she called. She spoke quietly toward the window for a bit. Then she turned to me again, holding up her state ID.
“Me!” She tapped the photograph, pointed to herself, and then tapped the photo again. “Beautiful!” She grinned. I agreed.
A few miles later, we reached her stop, a day program for people with challenges. Before she left the bus, she came back to shake my hand. “Have a good day!” she advised.
After escorting her to the door, the driver returned to the bus. He turned around beside his seat and stood to attention. “If everyone had her joy,” he announced quietly, “there’d be no more wars.”
He sat down, put the bus in gear, and drove on.