Monday, February 09, 2015

Bus Report #856

Friday afternoon, on the way home.

I was still listening to Sarah Dougher - half of The Bluff before the bus even arrived - and when it finally turned the corner onto 18th Street I could see it was already full. Oh joy.

I managed to get a seat in the back of the bus, one of the seats that faces another bank of rear facing seats.

The man sitting across from me was gorgeous in a scruffy, possibly-a-construction-worker-or-carpenter kind of way, with a destroyed baseball cap on his head and a reddish brown beard, thick denim pants spattered with mud or paint. He was reading but I don't remember what the book was.

At Potrero, a mom and her two kids got on. Mom and the little boy sat a couple rows in front of us and the little girl perched on the seat beside the gorgeous man. The seat had a bit of water on it and the little girl (maybe 6 or 7 years old?) didn't want to get wet. The man noticed the water on the seat and he smiled at the girl, and then he used his jacket, which was wadded behind his back, to mop off the seat for her.

The little girl grinned and scooted back onto the seat, her feet dangling over the front.

The bus was slow. The music I was listening to stopped - album over. I started listening to it from the beginning again.

We inched down 16th Street. The windows on the bus were mostly closed and it was warm, and the warmth combined with the slow rocking of the bus, and perhaps the stresses of her day, lulled the little girl to sleep.

At first she slept sitting up in her seat, her mouth slightly open. As the bus moved, though, she slid over so that she was resting against the man's arm. He looked over, smiled slightly, and returned to his book.

The girl's mom looked back and reached over to shake her daughter awake. The little girl sat up, blinked, and when I caught her eye she looked slightly embarrassed.

She was asleep again in a few minutes.

This time she slumped against the man's arm immediately, and while he didn't seem to mind (he must be someone's dad, or favorite uncle - he seemed very sweet) I think he worried what other people, including the girl's mom, would think.

"Hey," he said, quietly, "hey." but the girl was still fast asleep. He hesitated, caught my eye, and then gently tapped her knee.

She bolted upright, smiled shyly at the man and then turned to face the window.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Bus Report #855

Friday, a damp morning.

I walked to the bus in the dark, past several people walking their dogs, past the man who picks up all the trash for a few blocks of Clement when no one's looking, past sleepy delivery drivers loading pallets of supplies into unlocked, dark storefronts.

Waiting for the bus I put on some music I haven't listened to in a long while - Sarah Dougher's albums The Walls Ablaze, part of The Bluff, and a few songs off of her first record, Day One.

Her music always touches me, and hearing it again after so long transported me back to the early oughts, to shows at Cafe du Nord and Bottom of the Hill, standing over to the side by the wall while her band played on stage.

She has a song where she sings about "the selfishness of the artist" and it always reminds me of Neruda's "deber del poeta" (the poet's obligation) - and then I sit wherever I am (for example, on the 33 Stanyan on a cold and rainy morning, just as the sky is growing lighter) and think about my obligation as a writer, and my selfishness, and it makes me feel energized and despairing at the same time.

I step off the bus, into a light drizzle,  just as Sarah Dougher's fantastic cover of Irma Thomas' "It's Raining" comes on.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Bus Report #854

Beautiful grey-blue and light yellow sunrise this morning, streaked with hot pink clouds.

The 33 Stanyan glided through the route, dropping me at my early morning cafe a few minutes earlier than usual.

J., another regular, paid for my coffee before I had a chance to pick up his, and I thanked him and said I'd get his coffee next time, and the time after that. He just shrugged and waved me away.


Down the block, at the Potrero McDonald's, the yellow sign out front read: LOVIN GABE AND CARINS BUNDLE OF JOY.