An excerpt from Trina Noelle’s first book, Roadtripping the Dream, self-published in December 2012.
When I was a little girl, I learned from my parents and grandparents a few life lessons that I try to keep with me as I move along on this Earth. They have come to define who I am as a person and keep me grounded in times of sadness and uncertainty. They are inflexible and unyielding principles that cannot be bought, bribed, or broken, but hopefully they are borrowed and paid forward:
Leave things better than you found them.
Never be too busy to spare a kind word or deed.
Do small things with great love. Laugh often.
Everyone has a story, never be too busy to listen–you may be the only friendly person they meet all day.
Life is not promised.
Try to live your life to the fullest.
Do your very best.
If you hurt someone, apologize sincerely.
Don’t be upset about birthdays—growing older is a privilege —be grateful.
Make decisions after quiet contemplation and trust your instincts.
These are just a few of the lessons I carry with me during my day to day—a little bit of who I am and products of my unique experiences in life.
I give because frankly, the world needs more love in it. There is more than enough hatred, suspicion, and sadness being perpetuated. I choose not to be a part of all of that. Of course I run into people whose lives are movies made from different scripts, but I try not to let someone else’s anger overtake what I feel I am here to do. I am human with all of the frailties that we humans have, but I hope to be present in life and lift someone up with a compliment, smile, hug, gift or conversation. I do this because over 20 years ago, an unknown woman in a coffee shop on High Street did just that.
I was at a very low point in my life—wrestling with the recent passing of my grandmother from cancer and pretty much homeless with only a dollar to my name. I was too proud to call my parents because since I wanted to go to Ohio State, I felt that it was my responsibility to dig myself out of any problems I ran into. They were two and a half hours away, and as far as I was concerned, they really didn’t need to worry about me. I decided to stop and treat myself to a quiet corner of a coffee shop, and whatever warm beverage my dollar would buy. I just needed to soothe my soul. My feet were tired from walking all day, and my heart was heavy—wondering how I was going to make it. Truthfully speaking, I was giving up on life itself. I didn’t tell anyone, but this dollar was going to be the last I would ever spend.
I walked into this coffee shop called Especially Espresso. The owner was kind, but I was so blinded by my own pain that anything anyone said to me seemed like a blur. I ordered a cappuccino, and sat down to wait. In the bakery case were the biggest chocolate chip cookies I had ever seen. The smell of them laced the air and made my stomach jealous. I wanted one of those cookies. I was so painfully hungry with no promise of food in sight for that day, but I was not going to beg anyone for anything.
After a few minutes the owner of the shop came out with my cappuccino and placed it on the table. As I was near tears, I thanked her quietly and flashed what smile I could muster without losing it completely in public. After she gave my cappuccino to me, she said, “You looked like you really needed one of these.”
She put a white plate with a napkin on it beside my drink, with one of the chocolate chip cookies on top. She had even heated it up for me. The smell of the cookie was so heavenly, and the chocolate chips that clung to the sides of the cookie made beautiful, small, shiny puddles of chocolate–in stark contrast to the white of the plate and papery texture of the napkin. My tears began to flow and I just looked at her. I told her that I couldn’t afford to pay her for the cookie, but she just smiled and said, “No charge.” I grabbed her hand and thanked her, and she smiled and walked into the back of the store. That cookie was so moist it was falling apart, and so big that it filled me up—once I drank my cappuccino.
Upon standing up to leave, I cleaned up my table, wiped off any crumbs, and put everything where it was supposed to go. I thanked the lady once more, put on my coat and walked out into the crowd. I put aside my plan to take my life that day—saved by the kindness of a stranger I would never see again.
Of course I could’ve gone back, but felt that I didn’t want her to think I was some stray coming back for free cookies. I walked past the window a couple of times and she was not in there. I even thought about just going in to say hello if ever I saw her behind the counter of her shop. Unfortunately, it seemed as soon as I found that place, it had disappeared from the North High Street storefronts—to only become a memory.
So, to honor that wonderful woman, I remember to tell this story. I tell this story to thank her for her generosity toward some girl she didn’t even know–a girl who had lost her faith, direction, confidence, and almost took her life on that very day. I tell this story to thank her for renewing my faith and reemphasizing the lessons I learned from special people in my life—special people I missed terribly but still loved beyond all space and time—people I believe still love me. I tell this story hopefully to inspire others to give of their hearts when that gut feeling is telling them to. I tell this story to tell you why I give, and why I have given this gift to you.
Thank you so much for your kindness, conversation, and generosity and thank you for the wonderful things you will do for others you know or may not know, because of this story. You may think sometimes that you are an insignificant cog in the wheel of life—that often you go unnoticed. But because of your kindness, you will always be something to someone you may or may not meet again.