Hey everyone, so I haven’t written a post in over three months. That’s a bit insane, but this summer’s been pretty insane overall. I should have a kind-of “summary” piece later this week, but until then I think it makes sense to post “updates” about what I’ve been doing instead. Even though I’ve been so busy, it’s pleased me that I’ve found the time to write almost every day. Living in this city really activates my brain and my creativity. I started just by watching people on the bus, started wondering where they’re from and what they’re doing. As I went on the stories got more out there– more creative and written from perspectives you might call “more unique”. A couple I think are actually worth showing. Let me know what you think! I’m tender but thrive off of constructive criticism (I’d be nowhere without it). That being said, I don’t believe any of them (except maybe one I’m just finishing off right now) stands up on it’s own; rather, as a document of what happened in my summer, they should be taken in together. For now.
Each day this week I’ll release one (ooooh like sweepstakes!). They don’t follow a strict chronological order, and may just be released in the very-scientific order of “whichever the fuck I feel like today” method. That being said, today I thought I could start with one of the stories that was ‘inspired’ by certain residents of Vancouver. This one was a tough one to balance, as I didn’t want it to just sound preachy; rather, it’s more talking to my own feelings of unease and inability to help. Let me know what you think.
Buses and Blue birds
The shops are just being opened. New summer days always bring the best: you have a mind; focus it on all the great things you can do today (all the impressers, all the fawners, the stacks of papers just waiting to get done). Around you life moves on and flies forward. The owners of each– the boutiques and the fruit stores– smile as they unveil their signs or place oranges in the basket. Around them the Suits and the Mothers make their way towards bus stops with rapid steps, but even they seem relaxed in their own strict pace. Above them the birds are signing.
That’s what you have to think, right? Let’s keep going down the avenue, past old stores with new lines or the new buildings in old lots– the babies the rabbits looking out at you, anything cute and fluffy. You are your only eyes, and you can focus them anywhere you want. And then, you are only your eyes. Don’t let anyone else show you were to turn. Any voice you hear doesn’t have to be here long; it’ll be trampled under the tire of a car like all other foreign sounds before long.
He doesn’t have a name by this point anyway. Don’t worry about him just worry about your bus. If you give him a nickel he’ll give you a scream. His sign is tattered anyway, and he’s the kind of man– trembling hands, stringy arms– that got where he did because he failed at fighting it all off– will probably spend your money on black sugar anyway.
You want to justify: want to pretend he’s the kind that make you mistrust the rest, want to be angry at the ones who buy pets to make you feel sorry. You can do anything you want can’t you? You have legs to keep walking, you have hands to guard your pockets. All you can’t do is look. Don’t let yourself be sucked in. If you tried, you probably wouldn’t comprehend anyway– it’s not the pity of a ruined bridal shower, it’s not the failure to get into uni, it’s a life, an entire life out there you’re watching tremble and crawl down the street. Can you handle?
The bus stop waits up the edge of the hill. Beside the sushi store already wafts of greasy tempura. Don’t you want this to be a beautiful day?
Did he decide to leave the bus on his own? It’s not the kind of thing we dare to talk about. Did he leave because we gave him nothing and he wanted everything? Slip-shot and straggling, he shakes his can to make a tiny nickel opera (yes, nickels, “not like we have anymore to give”). His jaw stretches naturally away from his mouth, and when he opens he chews at the air. His voice is like the cough that gets stuck in your throat when it’s covered in phlegm; his laugh is like the dust that sticks to the inside of a coffin. His t-shirt is of a fading sun.
“Change. Change,” he yells out. “Change! Gimme Change!” we all, reflexively, look down at our phones. I show my friend the latest conquest on tinder (good find, another one that’s ready to–)
“Change! Don’t you have any change!” He screams out at us, daring to look us each in the eye. “Change!” His voice could be down in the well; he could be drowning in his own darkness.
Sunlight flits through window slits. The General Hospital passes and passes away. He just continues making his nickel opera, the tunes sung by the tinkle and clang, the shake and the swoon of the bus. Apparently he can’t understand.
“Hey.” A curly haired boy with white-rimmed glasses protects his bag across his knees. “Do you want some water?”
“Yes,” he replies in a tone that’s both sure (of his thirst) and uncertain (of the kindness). “Yes.”
“I’ll put some in your cup. Her let me give you.”
He looks down at his Pepsi cup, ripped at the edges. He reflects on the coins rolling at the bottom, scratches and his arm and sucks his teeth. “I picked this cup off the ground.”
So he doesn’t want his mouth to fill with the water of the road and the gum and the ashes. But will we give him that kind of dignity? The boy gave him water; he gave him water. And he was going to turn that down?
The man seems to realize that– turn his cup in his embarrassment. The signs and the towers roll by, shaking and swooning to the touch of the gravel; the world passes by in the reflection of our I-Phones. Sliding past Granville, a glimpse to the south of the glass mountians, a glimpse to the north of the boutiques, artisanal coffee shops, and fashion lines.
He shoots up as the bus halts. Holding the bar of the exit, he shakes with his free hand, shakes for all he’s worth. “CHANGE! DO YOU HAVE ANY CHANGE?” He screams and shakes the bus. His yell echoes up and down the tube, bouncing off our screens and shoooting back out the door. He gives us a final lingering look– it’s me, Jesus, I’m sure it’s at me– before stumbling backwards off the platform.
So why did he leave the bus? Why did he leave? Is that him flinging down the cup outside, him making the final crash– the grand minor hurrah– to the penny opera as the coins roll away?
It’s sunny outside, it’s beautiful it’s beautiful it’s sunny outside. The bus keeps moving; the day is long and the birds are singing. You are only your mind. Time to think of bigger things.