Today is the Tuesday after Memorial Day, Which means that the university, the community colleges, and most high schools have had their graduation ceremonies. The bus wasn’t as packed, but it went at a leisurely pace… as always. There are a few more seats available, from now until the start of summer session. But for now, there are seats available. I can avoid sitting on the bench seats, avoid the uncomfortable eye contact with the lady who has as many bags in her possession as she has underneath her sleep-deprived eyes. I sit in the back, on the left-hand side, staring out the window, watching cars zoom past. I briefly think about the Montgomery bus boycotts, about what Rosa Parks and others went through, and the fruit of the boycotters’ labor are… my choice to sit at the very back. My mind soon drifts to my music, to what strain of indie rock I should listen to: lo-fi, or synth-driven music? I can be fickle at times, but it’s just that with each minute I spend staring out the window, my mind more and more starts to resemble a short-attention span film festival. Here’s my stop; I ring the bell accordingly.
I now find myself downtown, my feet (and to a certain extent, my liver) are feeling restless—as restless as the motorists that are, unbeknownst to them, serenading me with their bleating horns. I make my way through these familiar streets; the wind gently kisses me with its polluted essence. I pass by the hotels and bank buildings. I pass by vacant storefronts; now there seems to be more and more—dotting the landscape like unmarked headstones in a pauper’s cemetery. Rush… rush go the people, some with security badges, and some with county hospital wristbands. They rush past the guy standing on the brim of Paseo de San Antonio, playing his saxophone (a Charlie Parker number, if I’m not mistaken); they rush past the old Asian lady who is on no one’s time but her own. Their destination is unknown to me, but my short-term destiny has manifested itself in the form of my favorite café.
I find myself a patio table on the outside-a chipped, tiled table with a wobbly leg-where I lay my book and rest my pint glass. I take the first sip of a freshly-poured stout, and for some reason, I heard the opening line to Etta James’ “At Last”. I have had this particular beer many times before, but the first drink always makes me feel like a divine being drinking a chalice full of ambrosia. I then light a cigarette; it complements the beer as much as a glove does to a hand. I stare at the spine of the book I am toting along—it is a magical realism tome that could only have been written by Latin American authors of a certain vintage. I take another sip of my beer, I swirl it a bit, and stare at the head—how it clings to the side of the glass as the rest slowly settles, resembling a rich, lush coffee. I stare at the spine again, though literature is not what is calling me at this moment. That one question that dances in my head is back again—is it destiny, or is it a random occurrence where we end up?
Philosophy has always been an interest of mine, whether I fully understand the philosopher’s intent, or if my comprehension was skin deep at best. Whatever it is that you might be feeling, there will be a pearl of wisdom written by some guy who died a couple of hundred years ago. Love, angst, dread, irony, or a simple question of “why”, it is out there. There are many schools of logic out there. More often than not, different schools of philosophy clash like rival gangs dressed in tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.
Summer is slowly creeping in (and I, as well, am tired of the silly games), and romance hangs in the air. At the moment, the only thing I’m romancing is this pint that’s nearly done. My eyes drift back to the spine, and if there is one thing that I’ve learned from reading Gabriel García-Márquez is that, to be patient, and what will come will come. (Providence guided by my own hand.) So, I guess it’s all a matter of time—something that I have in abundance. And if there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that I have the patience of a caffeine-addled, nicotine-addicted saint with jittery hands.
©2012 José-Ariel Cuevas
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