Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Toilets outside Jo's Coffee on S. Congress for SXWX

A few weeks ago, I was walking through the golf course before yoga. It was cold, and my breath hovered before my face a few minutes before dissipating into the leaves. It made me acutely aware of our shared transpiration, me, the trees, all of us breathing in and out each other's biological gases. There is little separation, after all.

Last week I took the No. 3 into school, and suddenly this shared transpiration was repulsive--the exquisite weft of humanity that I had written about earlier was suddenly transformed before my eyes into a Fellini-esque scene. Every single living soul seemed to be scratching some part of his or herself, or snorting and swallowing mucus. I had to look away, put on my headphones. The woman with Downs Syndrome was there, and when a drunk homeless man sat next to her, she put both hands over her face and gave him a look of horror. Twice the boy in the seat behind me fell asleep and the bus driver got up to wake him, "You're going to miss your stop, man!" The boy's eyes rolled about disorientedly, then he fell back against the window in a slump. He could not be older than my 15-yr old son. Clearly he didn't care where he got off. Was he homeless? Abused? I suddenly felt the urge to take him home and care for him.

Approaching campus, I stood by the driver and asked about the kid, where he needed to get off, because he had fallen back to sleep. "I don't know--he just looks like a school kid. It's a long route. Eventually he'll get back to where he started. We can't take care of people, we're not even supposed to."

I knew this was true. The scratching, sniffling, stinking lot of us are on our own, in the end I guess. I stepped off into the bright cold light and walked toward campus, the bus driving off with its cargo of the damned toward wherever. I thought of the boy many times during the day. I think of him today, a week later, somewhere out there in the city.