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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hemingway at a Bus Stop


She wasn't my usual acquaintance but she was interested and interesting. I wish I would have been.

“Hi, do you know what time the bus gets here?

“Oh, it's cool. The bus has a different schedule on the weekends, so I don't know either.”
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The sun didn't have the patience to wait for the 17 bus but this woman and I did. She had more patience for this particular bus, I just had more time to wait for any bus I would find myself to take. Her long-sleeved over shirt and drab sweatpants seemed to coexist with nightfall but her aged face seemed forced, well befitting of the stories she told, the wisdom she had, the tumultuous battles splashed with overcomes; but not of the discoveries she still yearned for or the curiousness that brought her to this bus stop and me.

“So do you go to high school?”

She looked down, saw my school's emblem and the fighting colors of my shorts, and realized before I told her.

“Oh cool, what are you majoring in?

“Yeah, I love reading too. My favorite is Ernest Hemingway. He wrote a novel called “To Have and Have Not.” It's my favorite. And then they made a movie based on it and it had Humphrey Bogart in it.

“Yeah it is. It was made in 1944, I mean I wasn't around when it first came out, I'm not that old. But yeah anything with Humphrey is pretty old.”

I really wish the bus would get here already, I want to go home; maybe go for a swim or play basketball.

“And then a guy named Gregory Peck was in another movie based on a Hemingway novel. It was really good too.”
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I wondered why she wasn't in some classroom with other studious gabs. She could be with them, talking to them.
“I've thought about going back to community or maybe online or something but my schedule's all over the place—I'm a nanny for this one family, their days are always different. I don't know how I would fit in school.

“Yeah weekend classes could work, maybe morning or night classes...I have a bunch of friends at the U of A and Pima who go everywhere and do cool things. Like one of my friends at Pima—she's Native American like me—she helped her tribe get some land in court a few weeks ago and when she told me about it I was just in awe. That was so cool.”

I hate waiting. There's a phone number on the bus stop sign.

“You're not calling that number on the sign are you? They close early on the weekend.”
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Her cellphone rang quietly and a soft hello was uttered. She ambled out of listening range. Within moments, none of which saw the arrival of the bus, she returned.

“A bunch of my friends want to go to The Loft to see some classic French movie but I don't think I'm gonna go I don't have $9 to get in.”

This encounter is starting to get personal. I think I'm sweating.

“Have you heard of F. Scott Fitzgerald? I've heard a lot about him but I never read anything of his. Like “The Great Gatsby.” Some of my friends got me tickets to a play based on it but I still wanna read the book.

“I think a senior class at my high school read it too but I didn't get too far in high school.

“Really? I saw that movie, didn't know he wrote it. Benjamin Button was a really good movie though.
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“Are you Japanese?”

Are you going to watch the news tonight? Do you know about the election? Are you registered to vote? Who are you voting for? Whose toupee do you think will fall off first? How much wind would it take to blow someone's wig off?

“Oh Vietnamese huh. My brother has two Japanese children, both girls, because he was in the army and y'know he was stationed in Okinawa. Beautiful city by the way.

“I hope they do, it would be a shame for anyone not to know their dad, cause I didn't.”

She scoffs. Her voice becomes somber and deeper but still audible like the roar of a launching rocket.

“It was actually pretty hard on my mom to look after me and my two brothers. And none of them had anyone to teach them how to take care of a girl—it's why they both sleep around and have babies everywhere. But y'know I tried to help out wherever I could, babysat my brothers, whatever, cooked, clean. I think that's the bus.”

Oh, finally! She got on first and we sat in different seats. The bus drive apologized roughly at every stop for being so late but never explained why or what had happened. After a few more apologies in the night, she got off at the stop before mine through the back door. I would eventually arrive home at long last.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

She reminds me a bit of Luella Bates Washington Jones. =]

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