Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bookfield, Home Again - Part 1

The Greyhound bus departed early in the morning from the tiny one room station in Cayuga, New York, bound for New York City. I had to go home to Nassau County, briefly, to pick up my winter clothes for the semester ahead. It was a gorgeous late summer day in the country. I sat in an aisle seat next to a young man, whose face I really couldn’t see at first. He turned out to be cute, though. Dark brown hair, ivory skin, brown eyes, I liked him immediately. His name was Sam, and we seemed to have quite a lot in common. He did gymnastics in high school as had I, and was also biology major at Cayuga, but a freshman, on his way home to Riverhead, also on Long Island. I told him that I was a junior. We chatted the whole 6 hour drive to the city. He was entranced by my southern accent. At one point I was sleepy and put my head on his well muscled shoulder. He seemed happy enough with that. He gallantly offered to wait with me for my mother to pick me up, but I declined politely. We decided to get in touch when we returned from home. I felt pretty confident that we would date (and we did) and my spirits were high.

I was an adult returning home. An adult who had made it through the summer against difficult odds, doing a job that proved my independence, and tenacity. The demanding hours and personal sacrifices surely illustrated my ability stick-to-it when the going got rough. I felt confident that I could do anything. I couldn’t wait to greet my Mom, as a new adult me.

We arrived at the Greyhound bus terminal on Eighth Avenue, NYC in daylight. The terminal was notorious at that time for sheltering panhandlers, drug dealers, muggers, and other unsavory characters. Sam and I said our farewells and he was quickly lost from sight in the crowd gathered to meet the bus outside. I entered the terminal. There was no natural daylight as I walked further in. The institutional gray cinder blocks were dimly lit by weak fluorescent bulbs. The floor was filthy, and smells of urine rose in waves while a general stuffiness predominated the air. God knows what the bathrooms looked like. I never would have dared venturing into one.

I had been instructed to meet Mom in the terminal’s television area. The area consisted of a raised circle of molded grey plastic chairs with coin operated television sets attached to one arm of each chair. I stood inside the circle of chairs trying not to look conspicuous, and simultaneously checking out the people around me, for about twenty minutes.

‘Mom should be by any time.’ I thought to myself while I waited.

A small group of young unkempt black men was loitering in the circle. They asked me for change for a television, and I told them I didn’t have any. They kept looking me over, and I didn’t feel that staying in the circle for a prolonged time was a good idea. I waited there for another few minutes, even though I felt more concerned as each second ticked by. My eyes followed a transit cop as he made his rounds just past the circle. I left the circle and followed the cop. He only walked about ten or fifteen feet from the circle and stood his ground as if it was his post. I chose to stand behind him, up against the wall. I was still plenty close enough to the circle to be seen, and to see anyone else who entered the circle. There I waited until I had waited for abut an hour total. The station was emptying out by then. Soon all that were left were people who appeared to be loitering, or confused. The transit cop was on the move again. I really felt insecure, and so I followed him a little bit, thinking about reasons my usually punctual Mom could be late. I concluded that traffic on the Long Island Expressway was most logical. ‘She’s probably here by now’ I thought as I returned to the circle again. The loiterers had split. I sat in one of the television chairs. I didn’t have enough coins to watch, and by now I was kind of worried about Mom and wasn’t interested in T.V.. I noticed how the floor under the circle of chairs was raised, like a stage, above the surrounding flooring. This made me feel exposed, like the one animal in the pack that is straggles behind, and is therefore more likely to be singled out by predators. I returned to my position by the wall. More time passed by. Where was mom?

1 comment:

Ryan said...

i love the way u live the stories 2 make us comeback 4 more!