My Experiences

Where Are We in America, Now? (Part 3 of 4)

If you were a mouse on a toy boat in the ocean, the waves would look like giant hills.

You’d glimpse the slope of a hill in your peripheral vision. You could just barely see it over the shoulder of the massive slope in front of you. Wyoming looks like that, only the waves are dust.

A junkyard is welcome in the endless window of a bus. Amidst the waves, the crest of sparks and metal catches the eye. Chrome glints by the side of the road. The bus keeps moving through the swells.

Another junkyard in the window. This one is a wrecking yard for mobile homes. Some trailers are ripped in half. Strips of aluminum painted white poke from the ground at odd angles. The bus driver looks out at them. One mobile home is intact in the middle. “That guy isn’t married,” he says.

The bus pulls into a parking lot and I’m ready to get out after six more hours. Outside the window, a Burger King and a gas station were born conjoined. I’m sure their mother loves them both very much.

I cross the parking lot. The yellow sun told me it should be warmer than it is. I walk in the gas station and see a pot of drip coffee like at a rest station or a breakroom. I ask how much the small cup costs. The answer is more than a dollar, so I walk outside.

I stand in the cold yellow sun and suck from the filtered tube of my water bottle. It is filled with  bathroom water from 3 different states. Various notes of subtle metals dance across each other in my mouth.

The colorful lady walks up to me. The stripes of her shirt are lit by the cold sun. “How far you headed?” her brown sunglasses ask.

I listened to her in another state. She was talking to somebody else. That man had an infant son whose ears he wanted to protect. That was hundreds of miles behind us. Here, it is just her and me and dirt.

“Quite a ways,” is my offer.

She pauses and her sunglasses angle down at my feet and up again. “You think you’re so tall.” She says. “You and the black man, you think you’re so tall.”

I sip my metals and look out at the waves of dust.

“I know you.” She says. “I know what you are. You come over here from France.”

I look at her sunglasses. They don’t cover her mouth. The skin is the color of dust.

“You come over here from France. You come to my country,” she says. “You come over here to my country. You take everything. You take everything back to Europe with you.”

I wonder if Burger King still sells anything for a dollar. I try to picture what that might be. I can’t imagine it being worth a dollar to me.

As I walk away, I hear her call after me. “When I get home, I’m getting my gun and my brothers. We’re going to ride. We’re going hunting.”

I’m standing outside the corner of the Burger King and fumbling with opening a can. A bus driver yells “4 minutes!” from across the parking lot. I cram two bites in my mouth with a plastic fork. I hear the bus engine rumble to life.

I spill food on myself, and the door to the convenience store opens. The world’s coolest convenience-store employee saw me spill food on myself. She sticks her arm out of the door with a big cup.

I cough on the last bite and start jogging toward the bus with 24-ounces of caffeine. Now I look like an American. I’m shuffling fast and trying not to spill my coffee.

 


I was a kid in the midwest and it felt like I grew up there. We moved near Seattle and I grew up more. I thought I found “The Woman I’d Spend My Life With” a couple of years ago. Then my life exploded one day. After that, I got on a bus. These things happened, and made me think about America.

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