2.1.13

At dawn, I go for a run to Chinatown. I dawdle in the cornfield and on my way home, taking several Hipstamatics of the sunlight breaking through the various eastern vistas that I pass. I photograph the sun rising over still-sleepy streets, above the already-packed freeway, and through a chain link fence.

Back at home, I shower and dress in jeans, a white button-down, and Converse. I need to return to Beverly Hills to pick up Spyro's visa, but there's no need for fanciness today. Before I leave, I package the rest of his documents up to be FedExed back to him. With a Sharpie I write on his extra passport photo, just beside his face: I'm going to Brazil! 

He texts me as I'm sitting in the waiting area of the consulate a little while later.

- You have the visa? 

- Not yet.

- I'm sooooo esssssited.

- Gooooood. ... Just realized they painted the waiting area in the colors of the Brazilian flag.

- Duh.

(a few minutes later)

- You still waiting?

- Yes.

- Any cute boys?

- Dunno. I can only see their backs.

On the bus ride home, I sit in the far back row. My phone battery is running low, and I've got an hour ride back downtown. I know I can either listen to music or play with Hipstamatic, but not both. I opt for taking pictures, and spend much of the bus ride surreptitiously photographing my fellow passengers, trying out new combinations of lens and film.

A little ways from home, a short, mustachioed middle-aged Latino man boards the bus and sits beside me, in the only open seat left. He's wearing a white polo and aviator sunglasses, and turns his head almost constantly to look down the streets we pass. I angle my phone's camera toward him and take a couple of snapshots.

We're passing a Mexican restaurant I often walk by on my way to Home Depot when I feel him tug on my sleeve. I pop my headphones out even though I'm not listening to music, and turn to face him.

The man, who is now holding his sunglasses, asks if I've ever been to the restaurant we just passed. I say no, but that in fact I've wondered about it, since it's close to where I live. He's animated in his enthusiasm and praise of it. Oh yes, very good. Very good. 

I reply with a skeptical tone but a smile. Oh yeah? Well, I'm from Arizona, so I'm an extremely harsh judge of Mexican food...

Our conversation goes on for another five minutes. He talks quickly and nods often, looking me in the eye when I speak. When I ask where he's from, his voice grows impassioned. He's from Mexico, but it was very very bad there, he says. When you have a business, they come, the criminals, they come and... The man makes a grabbing gesture with closed fists. They take it. You understand? Very bad place. He tells me how grateful he is to be in the states, how it is so much better here, so much safer, and I smile and nod. What sort of work do you do? I ask him. Again, he uses his hands to explain. With a wave of his wrist, he smooths out an invisible surface. I make flooring. Installations of the floor.

I say something about tradesmen having the safest jobs, and when he returns the work question, I mumble vague half-truths about doing creative work. At this, a tall, broad-shouldered black man in a business suit turns to look at me, from where he stands in the aisle.

"Are your rates good?" he asks me, in a booming voice.

I'm caught off guard and unsure how to answer. "Yes," I say, and smile. "I think so, anyway."

The man reaches into his pocket, then hands me a business card. He says something about occasionally needing freelancers to pick up small extra jobs for him. "Email me," he says. Before I can thank him, he continues. "It's nice to see people talking on the bus." He nods approvingly towards myself and my conversation partner, who nods as well.

"Yes," says the Latino man, in a serious tone. "People should be good to one another." When we both disembark a minute later, he shakes my hand warmly before bidding me goodbye and good luck.

---

I spend the next couple of hours running errands and collecting the last bits of my outfit for an 80s prom party the next night. Everything I need is in the fabric district, and cheap. $5 for a mesh shirt, $3 for some lace gloves, $5 for some lace nylons, $1 for a headband and bow.

On the way back, I run into an acquaintance walking his dog. I haven't seen them in months, and we chat for several minutes on the sidewalk. His dog is a 180 lb Saint Bernard whom we both desperately wanted to be friends with Chaucer - but each time we got them near one another, they made clear that they had other plans.

Kerry texts in the afternoon inviting me over for rooftop margaritas, but I won't make it over to her place until after seven: thyroid-related exhaustion kicks my ass and I need a nap by the time I return home with my haul of 80s accessories.

She and I, Ross and a friend of theirs go for pizza, then drinks and dancing at a neighborhood dive bar. When Kerry finds out about my upcoming wisdom-tooth extraction appointment, shes offers to take and pick me up from it. I hate asking the favor, as she has precious few days off and I loathe the idea of her wasting one on chauffering me around, but she's insistent. "Done," she says. "Don't even worry about it."

We listen to music and talk in the back room of the bar. When I reveal that I haven't been feeling close to one of our mutual friends, she tells me she hopes I know that I can text or call her whenever. "Most of the time, I'm seriously not doing anything, anyway," she says. I tell her that she's often on my mind, even if I don't reach out. That I wonder how things are going with her work, and other things she talks about when we get together. I tell her I absolutely know that she'd be there if I needed anything, and she reminds me how loyal she is. The conversation is like a verbal hug between us, and I think to myself yet again how grateful I am to have her and her husband as friends (which is something I've told them both).

We spend the next few hours running back and forth between the bar, the dance floor, and the Ms. PacMan table where Ross and their friend sit talking.  Later, we get burgers and fries at a late night diner a few blocks away, before I head home, walk Chaucer, and collapse into bed a little bit after three a.m.