you only live once.


last night, while taking the 49 back to my place, this jamaican guy tapped me on the shoulder. i turned around. "hey man," he said, "this third street?" "no," i told him, "we're still on broadway." "oh. i don't need to stop here!" he informed the driver. "i thought this was my stop, but it's not. you can keep going!" this made me laugh a little, since he was obviously drunk and talking to the bus driver as though he were his personal chaueffer. "i'm lost, man," he told me. "i need to catch the 125 downtown to get to west seattle, but i'm lost." "well, third street is still a little bit down. we'll go down pine, and then turn left on third."

he seemed to acknowledge what i was saying. i smelled the alcohol on him, but it wasn't strong alcohol; it smelled almost like cologne. maybe he had been drinking cologne. "i gotta stop at a gas station first," he told me, "i need to get loaded." his dark eyelids drooped heavily and his head lulled from side to side. i nodded, as though confirming this fact that everyone needs to get loaded every now and then. "i don't know," he shrugged, "you only live once." i was trying to read fidelity, but i enjoyed the distraction. i was waiting for him to tell me something ridiculous, but it didn't happen. he just kept talking about how he needed to find a gas station so he could get loaded.

"how long have you been in seattle?" i asked. "not long," he said, "just a couple weeks. i'm from the midwest, but i come here now and then. i don't know this place." i just nodded. he seemed perfectly content, being high, drunk, or drunk and high, taking bus rides which may or may not be his actual destination. "will you tell me when we're on third?" "sure," i said. i pointed out that we were on eighth, and that the numbers just kept going down. "ah, yes," he said. i was interested in this person; where he'd come from, where he was going. the answers, i'm sure, would prove to be a lot more interesting than my own.

sometimes i sit on the bus and get pretty down. maybe it's the music i'm listening to, or feeling so closed in when it gets super crowded. once, i saw this really depressing city year/americorps ad. it was red with a white timeline, and the timeline had these dates bulleted: born, graduate, change the world (city year), get a job, retire, die. i thought it was the most ridiculous ad i'd ever seen. first of all, shouldn't one constantly be trying to change the world throughout his entire lifetime? and why perpetuate this myth that one can change the world in one year by volunteering? everyone knows it's bullshit.

i think, too, about moll flanders, and how moll realized that she felt lonelier in the city than she did when she was isolated in the country. it's something about being surrounded by lots of people, but not quite knowing how to interact with them. i don't think i really know for sure how to interact with people. others, i find, know very well how to put on a show; they laugh as they say their goodbyes.

No comments: