Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Grand Adventure: Part I

Yesterday was an adventure. The truth is, I don’t know how it got to be that way. Normally I’m five minutes late for work and my heart starts racing and I possibly yell and cry in the car about my stupidity at being late. But yesterday everything went wrong and there were no shredded tissues.

It all began with a plane ride. For reference, I hate planes. They’re loud and they vibrate and people are obnoxious and I never sleep on planes. Yesterday I met a man who exclaimed about how he had too many pockets he could never find his boarding pass. I sat next to a man with jerky elbow syndrome (as in his elbow jerked and he also took my armrest - jerk). But I dozed. I DOZED! The sun came in at just the right angle and the loudness of the plane overcame the voices of the children in front of me begging for Monster energy drinks and there was just enough muscle in my arm to lean my head on so that my rib cage was no where near jerky elbow guy. It was glorious. Instead of thinking about being home in my bed I dozed off to thoughts of what it might be to be a flight attendant, snuggling newlyweds, and the next trip I might take. I even surfed the airlines website to check!

While I do love the bus for its cheapness, getting lost makes me very nervous. I considered taking a cab several times before concluding that I had the small fare and knew the route well enough to use the bus. It was a beautiful and warm day. I get hyper-aware when I’m travelling though so I did not sucome to the drowsy warmth of the bus as did one of my fellow passengers. He was neck-bobbing right in front of me, jerking awake every time his head hit ninety degrees to his body. He didn’t smell, so I didn’t mind.

At the last second I realized I was at my transfer point (a two-named road), but the bus idled for several minutes so I had time to hop off with my body bag of a suitcase. The problem with transfer points? There were stops on every corner of this intersection. How was I to know which one led to the right bus route? I crossed the street, crossed back, almost met my previous bus at its next stop. An older man slowed his SUV to ask if I wanted a ride. Seriously, what lone young woman would accept that ride? He was sketchy just for asking, even if he was just trying to be nice.

It didn’t occur to me as I was wandering with my three bags that I looked a bit out of place. In fact, it didn’t occur to me until a man pointed it out. He asked me if I meant to go to the projects. I cocked my head in confusion before looking around. I realized then that I was supposed to go in the opposite direction and crossed the street. A woman told me I missed the bus, but I confirmed with her that it wasn’t my bus. Then I stood by the sign she pointed to, waiting for the next one of my buses. I watched children playing on the fire escape and people walking with their groceries.

I started to worry the young woman had misled me, so I wandered back to the stop I had left. Then I did miss the bus. I saw it slide by, wondered briefly if I might catch it at the next stop, and then went to stand by its previous stop. Perhaps another bus of the same type would come around soon. There I met a man with groceries, waiting for his girlfriend. He called to check for the next bus and confirmed it would be thirty minutes. I considered offering them cookies I had in my bag for helping me. I couldn’t decide if it would be rude not to or condescending to. I considered my out of placeness. I felt like a brat, spoiled yet determined. I was happy for their help, though.

I watched a young girl reading a letter, wondered if she was a writer or if it was a note from her best friend. I watched the couple go in opposite directions, one going to purchase cleaner, one to check on her aunt’s house where an ambulance pulled up and turned in, both leaving the groceries to be watched over by me. I figured if they trusted me and their neighbors enough to leave the groceries, I wasn’t in any danger. It was sunny and there were children playing.

Then another man wearing a beautiful linen suit crossed the street. I thought he might know the couple, but he walked right up to me as I was putting my bus fare in my pocket. He called me “dear” and asked if I was alright. I confirmed that I was. I told him about my predicament and he confirmed that I was at the correct bus stop, surprised that I knew my route and had the correct fare. After he gave a look and a nod to the couple, gesturing at me, he walked back across and down the street. This would never happen where I am from. Even if someone is nice, they don’t necessarily check on a stranger who looks lost or out of place, and they do not assure their protection by linking them to other strangers. This was a community. An actual community, where people let their kids play outside with each other, acknowledge even strangers, and form bonds. Suddenly I felt less like a brat, more pitied and inexperienced.

The bus came. My stop came. I thanked the bus driver and scooted home to relax, unpack, and run errands. Those things almost happened.

End Part I

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