Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bus Report #991

Sunday afternoon on the holiday weekend, on my way to join the Teacher's Pet at Zine Fest.
I walked down to California and 8th to wait for the 44 O'Shaughnessy. Normally I would have walked but the heat. Oh, the heat.

The bus was running late. The only other people waiting for the bus were a big-for-her-age but very young teenage girl and a sunburned, tattooed man with two tattered backpacks.

The girl leaned out of the bus shelter and saw me, and immediately began talking. I couldn't figure out if she was just chatty, or if there was something slightly off with her - but she was sweet. She couldn't believe how late the bus was, shaking her head and giggling. She had a pretty smile that stretched the length of her round moon face.
"He's late and he was supposed to be here ten minutes ago and how can they do this when it's so damn hot out?" she said. She rambled on about the heat. Cursed a lot. Still, I looked at her and thought, sweet girl.

The man nodded. "Yeah, it's hot, but it isn't Belize in the rainy season hot."

I've been to Central America during the rainy season, though not to Belize, but I agreed with him.
He told the girl about the rain and the steam and humidity, about how wet everything got. How wet it stayed.

"We learned to basically take a cold shower in our clothes and then lie down in bed, and just sort of hope we'd fall asleep before they dried out."

The girl was hooked. "For real?" she said. "That's crazy."

He went on. He'd moved his whole family down there for two years; wife, three kids. It sounded idyllic at first. Big house on an even bigger plot of land. Farm animals corralled near the house. Wild animals out in the forest. Coconuts in the trees, and his little son would shimmy up the tree to get coconuts for his mother. No electronic gadgets for the kids, so that they grew to love and respect their Belizean friends and let go of some of the trappings of modern-day life in the States.
But then he said something that made me think we weren't getting the full story. "My youngest," he said, "She'd be about oh, ten or eleven now."

He went on, describing how he and his buddies had dealt with poachers on their land, about the kids learning Spanish.

"Those were the best two years of my life," he told us. "It was sort of... It was like the end of our life as a family, but it was also the best time for all of us."

The girl grew quiet. Sipped water from her water bottle.

"We split up," he said. "My wife and I... We still love each other, you know? But it was like mixing fire and gasoline. A real beautiful explosion, but, an explosion nonetheless. And with my addiction..."
Here he trailed off for a moment.
I felt for him. Felt for his wife, his kids. For their perfect two years in Belize.

"Anyway, we came back and I haven't seen them in oh, three years? But, you know, the love is still there."

I nodded. Right then, the 44 pulled up and a moment later we got on the bus, followed by a tourist family, cameras swinging from their necks.

The man got out at 6th and Clement. Strange.

The girl stayed on, chatting loudly on her phone for the duration of my ride.

The next morning, on the way downtown, the 2 Clement was empty for the first 20 minutes of my ride. Unusual. The driver and I kept catching each other's eyes in the mirror.

Off of Polk Street, a cheery sight - silky pink curtains with a matching pink rug hanging out of the window of the Merit Hotel.


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