I AM. Introspective
Minutes to 10pm.
Dianda pointed me out.
The driver is approaching.
Wishing everyone well on the next legs of their travel, I get up from the table and meet the driver before he reaches me.
He opens the sliding side door to this ‘mom van’.
The van is empty.
Curious, I hop in while silently questioning if I’d be the only passenger on this late night voyage.
I buckle in and position myself to sleep.
We drive off.
Four minutes later, the van stops.
I think it’s a brief stop to gather more passengers.
It was, but I was being dropped at the central mom van hub where other passengers were gathered.
Instructed to off-board, I did and stood waiting.
Not speaking language fluently, left me guessing bit about the next steps.
Standing sleep, I hear movement.
I open my eyes to observe a petite woman motioning: “Uno, dos, tres, cuartro, cinco, seis, y siete. As each person is pointed out, they board.
Siete, yes, I fill the last sear of the packed van; sitting in the most right seat, next to the sliding door.
Pleased I’m not seated between others, I feel thinking I’ll be able to stretch my legs in the ample space in front of me.
But, um, no dear. Not to fast. Watch and learn.
One medium-sized box plopped. Then another stacked in thaaat space, leaving less that two-feet of ‘leg room’.
I take the deep breath in and exhale, because again [rolls eyes], this all part of the experience.
I tuck my backpack somewhere and buckle in.
Once again, I’m covering myself with the sarong.
The first several minutes, all was okay. That is, until I realized the driver and passenger windows were fully open.
Twenty-seven minutes in, windows open, still. Added to this, we’ve now, seemingly arrived at the-one-corner of the world where speed bumps are every quarter of a mile apart.
I ‘adjust’, somewhat. I think I slept. I know something close to sleep happened, but am only certain I was lingering in a strange twilight space of not sleep and kinda sleep. Not that I’d know from experience, but am sure my in-between sleep state was kin to some weird drug trip.
It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s dark.
The road has been designed, constructed and laid in a lonnng, continuous, punishing and near nausea-inducing s-formation.
Sadly, though I wouldn’t believe if I had not lived it, this is no exaggeration. Expelling my guts and soul and wanting to be put out of my misery was very much at the surface of my existence.
Hours in: cold, tired, awake sleep, knees aching.
Fortunately, the only spot of brilliance in my latest actions, was not filling up on fluids that would force a pressing need to relieve my bladder while swaying around curves or bopping over every bump.
Though there were moments where I literally felt as if my brain were swimming, causing dizziness while in this ‘sleep state’. I felt as if I’d vomit at one point; was close, but didn’t.
Further along in the trip, I had to face a moment of severe nervousness about not being able to stretch my legs. The possibility of deep vein thrombosis or some other life threatening event was a very real threat for anyone confined in that cramped mom van.
Anger was setting in. These winding roads was a bad idea; simply asinine.
At some point, we pulled into a stop to drop some passengers.
I see a young woman ushering her older relative from the van and then back to their seats. I assume she need to stretch and maybe use el sanitario.
I try to remain as close to sleep as possible while watching them. At this point, I give thanks for this elder’s and my body for being able to endure this physical stress.
We’re back on the road, open windows, late night cold air, winding roads and all.
Some hours later, we stop again to drop more passengers.
The time: likely between 3am & 4am.
Two people exit.
As the sliding door closed, I glanced, catching the face of a young woman walking just behind a young man.
They move to step off the curb. I make assumptions.
(The perception of the rather pretentious bourgeoisie *itch enters here.)
It’s the wee hours of the morning and I’m, wrongfully, feeling some kind of way about this scenario.
I sit, mad she’s with this guy … lol.
Watching this couple walk off I found myself taken back to years passed; remembering my teens, dating and a standard set. I remember the young adult years just beyond my teens, and meeting or being asked out by young men. I remember periodic memories of being on a city bus witness, approaching a stop where stood a young woman and her beau.
She, with a look of pure love. He: calm, cool.
As the bus crawls to a stop, and just before the doors push fast flinging open, she looks to him for that ‘I love you too’ affirming kiss (cue Musiq Soulchild’s So Beautiful). He awkwardly meets her enthusiastic lips before she tears herself away, stepping aboard.
Me: wincing; my body twisting and knotting internally as I cringed.
Never could I ever be that young, or for that matter, present-day woman.
Yes, this truth sounds and may be awful. Oh well … haha.
Living in San Francisco, a city where diverse personalities flock, I have all too often seen women lingering around, be it on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park or under bridges with their lovers, partners, husbands and even children. I couldn’t and still don’t grasp the idea and act of being walked to a bus or train stop, and much less living homeless with the man in my life.
Yes, I’ll grant you that these examples are polar. However, I register and relate the former with the latter because of standards set.
Growing up, as with most children, there were times I’d be in the company of my mom and her friends as they gathered socially. Watching the way the men and women engaged, I was only exposed to a standard of women thriving with men. They looked well, and their lovers, partner, husbands quite accommodating.
I remember tuning in and being struck by the chorus of a specific bluesy song: I can do bad myself. I don’t need no help to starve to death.
All elements combined, my slate, permanently engraved.
You could say this hook was a mantra that possessed me. My being became its residence, forever.
The eternal belief I live in this area of life, is that one must partner with a person that inspires them to their respective greatness.
This, leads me back to watching this couple walk off together.
Rightfully so, I felt bad for quickly judging and projecting my standard.
As you think it, I am fully aware it’s not my place to impose a belief or standard onto anyone beyond myself. I’m expressing a terribly simple, yet visceral, response triggered by that which was in front of me. Given that, it’s understood this has absolutely nothing to do with the couple left in the distance. It goes without say, it was more to do with me. Naturally, this resulted in my thinking about my station, and being in a colectivo in the early hours of the morning, roaming through a foreign country while not speaking the language. Vulnerable, much(?).
Evolving and publicly sharing the ugly and pretty thoughts, while gazing at myself, studying my standard of measurements and how I place in this life is my growth and intent here.
At the moment of setting of on this journey, the road was and remains completely open to all possibilities and events.
I only hope my arrival at various junctions fulfill me the way a young woman feels as she looks at her guy through the window from her seat on the bus, or the woman who is content with living homeless with the man in her life.
It’s about peace, isn’t it?
That bit of peace appears when I’m greeted by my new spirit guide ‘kitty‘.