editor’s letter sept 2008

FROM THE EDITOR: Following is the next section of my Sept.’07 experience, BUS RIDE. From last month:Recalling that happy visit in Cincinnati, I smiled to myself as the bus rolled up the Interstate toward the Ohio River. Thinking positive had helped.”

DON’T PUSH THE RIVER — LET IT FLOW

Rolling north on I-75 again, the bus is quiet. I wondered what time it was but instead of checking my watch, I closed my eyes. It doesn’t matter what time it is any-more. We’re so late there’s no chance I’ll make my Detroit connection. I have no idea what will happen. I have to just trust life’s river and let its current carry me.

Weary, I laid my head back and closed my eyes. Tum-ta-tum. I focused on the tires’ song, drifting away like a kite but pulled back at noisy stops: Dalton, Knoxville and London. Sensing the coach climbing to cross the high bridge over the Ohio River, I opened my eyes and gazed down. Far below, the wide blue-gray waterway moved smoothly in late morning sun and dime- sized barges chugged.

The coach rumbled through Cincinnati’s renovated downtown. Images jumble: red brick, velvety green parks, spiky yellow mums, spicy red geraniums and a white horse hitched to a waiting carriage. Later streets were a concrete and pavement blur. At last the driver announced, “Cincinnati” and angle-parked the bus in its assigned space between two others. Before opening the door our driver spoke gate numbers for connections including, “…those connecting to Detroit and points north, your next bus will depart Gate 4 at 2:20.” A couple of hours here…

After Atlanta I knew the drill. Collecting my green pull-along beside the bus, I immediately wheeled it to Gate 4 and parked it– third in line. It held my next boarding place, and I trailed off toward the end of the room crossing large brown tile grouted in black. Like an old stone church, the air-condition-ed cement block space held a chill. On my right were several glass gates. On my left, back lit drink dispensers shone like morning sun through bright stained glass. A red machine with white Coca-Cola letters stood next to a blue one whose panel showed a gay tumble of fruit: oranges, bananas, and strawberries.

At the room’s end, I turned into the “Ladies” and smiled at a reassuring Lysol scent. Relieved at its clean floor and tissue seat dispensers, I unwound a bit as I bubbled liquid soap on my hands then swished them in warm water. Luxuriously, I pulled two textured white towels from a full dispenser and blotted away damp. My hair tickled my neck so I wet my comb, glanced into the mirror and smooth-ed stragglers back into a pony tail. Pulling a silver tube from my purse, I drew “Pink Satin” brightness onto my lips before taking a moment to regard my reflection. It looked better than I felt.

After nearly thirty hours without “restful” sleep, I wondered if my brain was working right. My thoughts were melty. Memories of the Atlanta delay and startling White T-shirt event flowed together like warm fudge on vanilla ice-cream. Other senses were odd, too. Maybe it was a kind of echo from the nearly empty tiled room, but people’s voices had an ethereal quality. I’m tired. Still, I smiled at my mirrored self. That’s better!

Returning to the main room, I saw another busload of passengers straggling in. I recognized a tall man wearing a green silk shirt who’d not waited, but caught an alternative bus out of Atlanta. I smiled, Ha! I‘m here ahead of him! And doing OK… Maybe this shows how God looks after me… ( Continued on the next page.)

I glanced at double glass doors centered in the nearby end wall. Outside, blue skies called. Pushing into a clear September afternoon, I glanced around. Behind me stood the single-storied dark- red brick terminal. Ahead of me a brick patio stretched about twenty feet to a matching half-wall where a lone bicycle leaned. All around tired brown brick buildings waited silent and boarded, the few streets empty. Warehouses? I shook my head at the conjecture. It doesn’t matter. I closed my eyes and breathed in sunshine. It warmed and cheered me, but I soon began to feel uneasy. Outside I could not hear bus announcements. I don’t want to miss my next bus.

Returning inside, I saw a snack bar on my immediate left displaying packaged crackers, refrigerated wrapped sandwiches and candy as well as various beverages. I strolled over and considered choices while I listened to the slim dark-skinned clerk chat with a grey uniformed de-livery man bending over a cylinder of Coke concentrate, “I saw your friend, Geneese, the other day…”

“Oh?” The multi-braided girl raised her eyebrows.

The man in grey straightened, “Yeah. She said yo’ cuzin’ has a new baby.”

The girl in blue stripes and a white apron smiled and nodded, “A li’l boy!”

Clear plastic lines in hand, the man leaned down and tightened connections to the new brushed aluminum canister. He straightened and said, “I usta’ go ta’ her school. She wuz al’as purty.”

The girl bobbed her head, “Still is!”

Laying his hands on his empty dolly, the delivery man turned and called over his shoulder, “See ya.’”

The girl in stripes stood a moment looking after him, then turned to me. I pointed at self-service coffee dispensers and raised my eyebrows, “Hot tea?”

She bent, straightened and held up a red and yellow Lipton bag. I held out my hands palms up and shrugged. She pointed to a styrofoam cup dispenser.

I nodded a “thank you” and pulled one down.

She stood watching me.

“How much?” I asked, then produced two ones for her and waited for change.

I sipped the warm energy, I hope it is “the brisk tea!” Droopy, I wandered from one bench to an-other before settling on a red one across from my suitcase that waited like a well-behaved second-grader, lined with others to go into school. Absently, I glanced at my watch: over an hour until my bus. I stared out Gate 4 at an empty parking lot. Like a rowboat without oars on a large river I’m carried with its current — in the flow of the journey.

Frances Fritzie

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