STORIES FROM THE BUS - PART 1
Last month I rode the bus to and from work. Not every day. Just sometimes. I have heard stories about human trafficking predators finding their victims on the bus/train/tram and I was wondering if this was true for my town. I also wanted to get a little off balance.
See, along with some friends, I have decided to make some room in my life. To get uncomfortable. To be a better student of life.
So I decided to give up my Tahoe for the month of July. I'll just be up front right now and tell you I failed. I drove sometimes in July, even though I had the best of intentions. But many days I did ride the bus to and from work.
This is one of my stories from the bus.
It was a cold July morning in Medford. Those of you that live in the Rogue Valley know this happens sometimes, and we just go with it. One week it's blistering, the next week you're pulling your favorite sweater out of the back of the closet. It sounds annoying, but it can actually be awesome.
I noticed her right away. She was sitting on the edge of the bus station bench, surrounded by people in coats, shivering. She was wearing a bikini top underneath a thin tank top, a pair of cotton boxers and a few messy tattoos. In place of shoes she had used a Sharpie marker to color the top of her feet so it looked like she had flip flops on. Everyone was staring at her. Sometimes she would return the stares, glaring defiantly until they looked away, but most of the time she just sat on the bench, clutching a plastic ziploc bag, rubbing her goosebumps. Standing, she limped over to a spot where the sunlight was just beginning to peak over the top of an idling bus and closed her eyes, facing the light, willing it to warm her freckled skin.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say. I was squidgy and itchy inside. Everyone was staring, looking her up and down, keeping a safe distance. She continued to pace. The bus engine roared to life, and people lined up. She waited and took her place at the end of the line. I stood up last and slipped in behind her, determined to snag a seat near her if I could.
The bus was crowded. All that was left were the front seats that faced towards the middle of the bus, backs to the windows. This meant she could not grab a window seat and face forward. Her profile was out in the aisle, her long bare legs on display for everyone to see.
I slipped in close, right next to her. She had a death grip on her ziploc bag. Glittery purple nail polish tipped her long slender fingers, freckles scattered the tops of her soft hands. Freckles just like my daughter. She looked about Allie's age, maybe younger. I shifted in my seat and studied her face; the face of a girl. She took a deep breath and turned to face me. Soft green eyes met mine. Exhausted. Hung over.
"Hi," I said. "You look cold."
Duh, Jenna. That's the best you've got? Having grace for my awkwardness, she broke into a wide grin.
I took off my favorite sweater and and held it out to her. She quickly wrapped it around herself.
Her name was Jessica. She had been in Medford for 4 days. And over the next 15 minutes or so I would learn her story.
to be continued....