On the dusty sidewalk next to me squat my black duffel bag overstuffed with clothes, notebooks, and personal items I just couldn’t live without.
A few feet away, the massive silver and mauve bus lay idling. The passengers - all Mexican citizens - stood silent and pensive just like me. Mostly elderly - stooped old men wearing tattered yellow Stetsons and faraway looks clinging to cardboard boxes tied with nylon string. I mulled over what they were thinking about. New lives? New vistas? The simple fact of spending their remaining years with loved ones? I envy the dead.
Then it dawned on me what I should have been thinking about and the thoughts were this - I had wasted a year of my life in a numbing existence of relatively comfort and normality. A day hadn't passed my mind screamed, "How can people live like that? Doing the same thing day in and day out - year after year. The same friends, the same conversations - polite patter over warm cappuccinos on a frosty morning – languidly walking the boulevard window shopping for items you could never afford. How can people go on?" Without hesitation I forced myself out of that early death - Change is Life. Chaos is Change. Live to experience and not to simply exist. I made the decision to turn this stale life up a notch. Plan? Eh? A couple of weeks in Tucson, a few in El Paso, maybe San Antonio via Laredo then onward to New Orleans to finish and settle for a bit in La Perla, Puerto Rico. No time limit - just travel and write. Sounded good to me.
At the bus station, I took another long drag from my cigarette. Glanced at my watch - the bus was running twenty minutes late. I struck up a conversation with an elderly mother in a faded yellow granny dress with red wicker purse waiting silently next to me, “I hope this bus gets going.”
Her face wrinkled into a smile - skin the color of a rumpled paper bag - and nodded, looking out into nothing.
In her tinkling voice she said, “You will get to where you are going, joven. Not only that, you will come back and then go someplace else.”
The words of a Guardian Angel.
The fat, mustachioed steward poked his head out of the reception window and announced in Spanish it was time to board and with ten other passengers, we herded onto the bus. Taking my seat in the middle - as I always do, right side - pleased in the fact that the bus was not packed and that all the passengers, including myself, had a seat to themselves. I stowed my overhead luggage and hunkered down to the long, unknown future.
With a blasting fart of black soot and whining of gears, the bus shuttered and slowly rolled its way through congested street traffic to the on ramp of the 5 freeway north.