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  • At a recent fundraising event, friends of my friends were talking about bars and a typical Saturday night.

    "I really don't go out much," I shrugged with a smile. "I have MS and mornings are better. Not enough conerts are held at 10 in the morning!"

    Actually, that might explain why I have spent so much time at festivals in the past year, but that wasn't the point.

    "That's so sad," the friends of my friends cried, and I shrugged again.

    I had been to more countries, concerts, plays, and museums than the average bear. I actually know a man named Bear. A baby, too.

    Some weekends and evenings, I listened lectures. I went to the opera enough to know that the death scene consistently drove me batty.

    "Just die already," I thought of Ophelia. "We all know you're going to do it. Stop singing!"

    My coworkers called me cultured, but I had another side, too. Or three, four, or six. I could have been a single die cast in any direction.

    On the plane from Chicago, I talked with my seatmates of theology, comparative literature, and the Game of Thrones, taking it farther to bring up the crossover of GoT with Dctor Who in the form of the actress who played Aria Stark and some of the similarities between her two roles.

    "I just couldn't get into it," said the man on the aisle with a disparaging look. "I tried a season but..."

    He trailed off and looked at his book.

    I laughed and napped as well as I could with my foot in a boot and terrible dreams.

    At the time, on the plane, with my hair piled high, lips painted red, and wearing office clothes, I looked like a grown up, but at any given point, I could be wearing a superhero t-shirt, socks, and/or Underroos. I had a Wookie jacket and Storm Trooper dress (not to be worn together) just because.

    Thursday morning while awaiting the Catalina Express, a woman stood in the sun not far from me.

    "That's a great color," she called to another woman passing. "Is purple your favorite?"

    A seemingly strange question, it was rather astute.

    "He has epiplesy," said the woman of the boy she pushed in a chair."I wear it for him. Purple is the color for epilepsy."

    "How's he doing?" the first woman asked.

    "He's having a good day," the woman in purple said."Today is a good day."

    As she walked away, I turned to the first person and said, "That is pretty awesome.... Everyone's got a story."

    "Ain't that the truth?"

    She told me hers. Part of it, anyway. From foster homes to a PhD in Theology, she offered a glimpse into her life. She told me she could see into my soul and that I was good, truly good, and she gave me a hug, this stranger on a pier.

    Honestly, it wasn't that odd. People had been giving me stories all of my life. Sometimes, they cried. Sometimes, they told me their deepest thoughts AND cried on our first encounter. Sometimes, I cried, too.

    This woman, this stranger, Paige, and the woman in purple reminded me of a thought that has been running through my head for a couple of weeks: Not all superheroes wear capes. Sometimes, there's power in a smile or hug.

    Paige didn't know me. She didn't know how hard I strove to be good. She didn't know that I wrapped myself in kindness like a blanket and believed it would protect me from the world. She didn't know that when that cape of goodness failed, I used it as my bandage and sling.

    Paige didn't know any of that because I didn't know it, either, not until that very moment but she saw something on me, a stranger in a pier.
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