7 Hours on A Grey Day

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
Mark Twain

I have been sick and trying to stay inside today, but I’m having an issue with the stud in my nose. It was a gift from a lovely lady friend in celebration of my most recent birthday.

I call up the tattoo parlor on Red River where I got it pierced a few weeks ago, and they tell me to come down and get it taken care of.

I think it’ll be quite nice to get outside a bit and ride the 7 downtown on this rainy, cloudy day. I hop on, and I have my copy of ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman in my lap; my favorite find amongst a multitude of treasures I discovered at a clothing swap on the east side this past weekend.

I also found a grey animal print sweater and purple suede boots, which I’m wearing. I probably look fancier than I mean to, but I simply like wild prints and the color purple.

I think about how I love economies of gifting and trading when there’s more then enough to go around—more than we know to be gifted and traded.

I began the book the other night, sliding into a bathtub filled with lavender bubbles for the first time in far too long. On the third page, the main character Shadow dreams of what he’d do when he first got out of prison:

“First, he was going to take a bath. A real, long, serious soak, in a tub with bubbles. Maybe read the paper, maybe not. Some days he thought one way, some days he thought the other.”

Art imitates life. Life imitates art.

I instantly recall this time almost two years ago, when I bathed myself after feeling like I had liberated my self from a mental-emotional-spiritual-physical-sexual-relational-metaphorical prison.

How terrifying it was—and how I’d never felt such intensely unstable joy. I was a free radical bouncing about in energetic fervor. I remember how the gates of my mind still sometimes chase and haunt the me/she that finally broke free; they grow weary as that me/she keeps up her blissful running spree.

Because as we are imprisoned, we are the only ones who can truly free our selves.

…so the bus keeps going, and I listen to Mansions on the Moon as I watch the world pass by, passing passersby. I think how people get so caught up in the grind of modern living, and I just want to say:

Be gracious about everything you are. You’re not so far behind, and you’re not very far.

It is meditative here; one reason I love it. It’s fascinating how many or how few people smile and acknowledge each other on a given day. Public transit is the primetime spot to study human nature. At least in modern America.

I tend to find it far more interesting than most of whatever-the-hell’s on television. It’s especially wonderful when you find an insta-friend, with whom any of the following can and may occur:

  • you share interesting and out-of-the-ordinary conversation,
  • you make fiercely kind observations about each other during your momentary collision in time,
  • you give gifts to one another (phone numbers for lipsticks and rings for tea, et cetera),
  • you sometimes exchange balloons, bubbles, refreshing smiles, and maybe (maybe!) a hug or a handshake,
  • you are back and forth and back and forth for anywhere from 4 to 64 minutes…

…and then you never, ever see them again.

(Well, ok, sometimes you see them again. World’s getting smaller as we go, y’know?)

The second best place to study human nature?


In my humble opinion.

I am snapped back to the bus by a caramel-coloured man shouting “thank you” to the bus driver.

It’s nice that people of all ages-ethnicities-colours-genders-religions-levels-of-perceived-sanity say “thank you” to the bus drivers when exiting the bus here. I’ve made it a habit myself most days. I’ve had some really wonderful bus drivers in this city. They help make it run.

I think how—even though I was raised in the suburbs—I have always been drawn to cities, and I have loved sleeping in them when I travel. It’s the way they buzz about; awake all hours of the day and night. Like a comforting vibrational blanket of conscious life.

I get off at Congress and smile, as I almost always do crossing over to walk down 6th, as I reminisce about all the lovely, glorious, life-altering, joyous, weird, heart-wrenching experiences I’ve had already—here on this block, in this area of town, in this city. In this townlike townlake city.

A musician I know told me recently that he thought Austin to be a city where black sheep flock. We are from both the east and west coast. And the mid-west. And quite a few travelers and folks with international roots.

(Maybe we’re not all sheep, though? I really don’t think so.)

I walk down to the piercing place to get my problem fixed. It doesn’t hurt so much. I thought the pain would be worse.

I’m walking back toward the bus stop when I realize that since I’m downtown anyway, and I may as well finally (finally!) get my library card. A young man and I accidentally start walking side-by-side in rhythm with each other, and naturally conversation begins. He compliments the animal print, and asks me what I’m up to—in the way an old friend would. I like that.

Maybe we are old friends.

We continue to walk. He’s just moved here from Dallas to start anew. I think how almost every time I’m out and about I meet or hear of someone meeting another someone who’s just moved here. The stories are varied, but in it somewhere is inevitably something about this city being a special place. And it is, and I have felt this many times, and it’s why I’ve felt maybe even stubbornly compelled to stay so I could plant some roots here, at least for a little while; a process that’s really only just begun.

I often sense that I’m forgetting something when I exit any place I’ve been. Perhaps those are roots being planted, and perhaps they exist in a small way everywhere we go.

I am more excited than a librarian might expect a patron to be about this library card. I can’t believe I’ve forgotten how much I love libraries—it’s been entirely too long since I’ve been in one! I miss the smell of old books; the magic and possibility in the seemingly endless aisles of knowledge; the silence.

I am decidedly indifferent about the response and strange looks I receive geeking out about it.

This new old friend decided to get his library card as well, and we are off sifting through CDs, films, fictions, and philosophies, until we reconvene and take a walk outside to briefly share our own worldviews and self-care practices and sense of where-we’re-at-now.

He speaks of following your path and I speak of creating your own destiny. We are of similar spirits. He tells me has produced some hip-hop here and there and is working odd jobs downtown, and how he wants to be a healer. I sense healing energies from him, so I tell him that. I also sense that these energies are blocked in part by his insecurity, and I empathize. I don’t tell him that.

He studies the lines and mounds of my palm, and says he can tell that after a long and arduous journey, I am taking my life to the next level—and it’s good that I’m doing so.

I know this, but since everything is uncertain, it’s always nice to be reminded.

We laugh. He seems nervous, and he stutters as he says he’s been divulging a lot to a stranger. But I look at him and smile because we really aren’t strangers.

We tilt our heads back and laugh some more at the night sky. I can almost see our words spilling from our mouths like smoke, swirling up and away into the ether.

He tells me he’s just beginning to get his laughter back.

He walks me to the bus stop, and we part ways as an older man of seemingly Asian heritage loudly airs his frustrations about the end of days drawing near, and how we are so unfree.

As the bus rolls away, I think how even the end of days is a call for new beginnings, and how we are ever-bouncing happily back and forth; trying to find some stillness between where we have been and where we’re going.

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