Today after a memorably annoying lunch date (kids were not on best behavior) Sophie and I rode the bus back from Aberdeen while Ralph and Nels took to Top Foods for groceries. Sophie and I waited a long time for our bus into Hoquiam, and it was cold even in the bus shelter. Then there was a twenty-five minute wait at the HQX station – Saturdays and Sundays the bus routes are nearly dead – and by then the cold was in our bones so we took my last $2 to the 7th Street Sweet Shoppe to split a cocoa. Here’s what’s funny: the proprietors of this little cafe ply my children with more sweets and extra helpings than a grandma on love-crack. Today I didn’t escape without double cocoa portions, extra whip cream, and a giant cake mix cookie to take home to give my kids after dinner (this last excuse was used when I claimed my children had had enough sweets for the afternoon). Jennifer, the patroness of the shop, especially wanted my son to get his part of the decadent cookie. He is her biggest fan in an almost stalky way, which by the way is kind of cute on a three year old.
The leg of bus route that gets us closest to our house runs through the more run-down or low income area of town known as North Hoquiam – my girlfriend who grew up there affectionately calls it “the hood”. This is also the most active part of the Hoquiam bus route since those that take the bus in Hoquiam and Aberdeen are usually poor, carless, or both. Today as we passed the Lincoln Commons we let out a man and he winked and smiled sexily at the driver as he crossed behind the bus. He was one of those men that retains a certain handsomeness and dangerousness – a Daniel Desario or Danny Zuko – keeping his lothario charm despite years of bars, pulltabs, smoking cheap non-brand cigarettes and living a life of, well, low-income apartments I guess. In any case I got a kick out of his optimism as the driver in question was a big-boned toothsome woman with Barbie highlights at least fifteen years his junior. She didn’t look interested in flirting in any way, her kohl-rimmed eyes weary and irritable from working on a Saturday in the rain.
We passed by the apartments again on my way back from the Perry Ave. loop and I found myself wondering about the families and citizens in my [hometown] / new burg. Who where these people and what were their lives like? How does it feel if you ride the bus because it’s your only way to get around? Why do some people live with their family, even a large family, stacked up in these tiny apartments on the edge of town? Why do those who can and do own a spacious home all to themselves pretend these others don’t exist or flat out decide they don’t exist for all practical purposes? Why am I hearing so much about “the hills” and “the flats” these days – more than I ever heard of the haves and have-nots when I was growing up? Why am I puzzling over remedial “injustice of the world” questions as if I was a thirteen year old just discovering them?
Hey, you know what’s awesome? People that let their dogs crap on our sidewalks and yards and lawns without cleaning it up. Today was really great because just a few minutes ago I was helping Sophie remove her boots when my hand, gripping the heel, came into contact with the slimy, rancid horrible backend vomit of some neighborhood pooch. Although this is the first time I have mashed my hand into dogshit, the weird thing is my body had a preternatural awareness of what this substance was, right upon contact. After my revulsion and anger I washed her boot and scrubbed scrubbed scrubbed my hands and I can still smell shit. You know, there’s almost no point to this tirade – I don’t really feel any differently on the subject than I did almost two years ago.
My brother is moving to Portland in two days. Wish him luck! We’ve been feeding him a lot. I think he is kind of lonely yet overworked and stressed lately.