I wondered what I might be missing in my daily commute, with my iPod and book, so tonight on the bus home, I unplugged.
Two women and a man stood near me, my eyes level with their belts. The first woman was speaking a language I couldn't identify, maybe Tagalog?
Woman #1: [Unidentifiable language]
Man: Poltergeist, cemetery.
Woman #1: [Language blah blah] ...friends from medical school, and I went for my interviews. [more language - is it Spanish?] So, the night before [blah blah, nope, not Spanish, maybe an Asian language, but not one I know] it's a voice, & I can see down by the foot of the bed, & rising up [language - wait, did she say niño?] and I'm like, scared...
Woman #2: Eeeee!
I look up at them, and we all break out laughing. They're much younger than I expected, Woman #1 is wearing braces.
Man (to me): Scary story, huh?
Man (to Wo #1): Next day, next day.
Wo #1: So the next day [blah blah now I'm thinking Tagalog again] across the street, this little cemetery...
I wait for the second bus at Fillmore & Haight, across the street from Whole Foods. There's a flat above the store, its window open, light on, they've been painting a rich red, hint of pink. I've seen the boys that live there on sunny days, leaning on the sill, smoking. Tonight it's dumping rain. Two white boys set a boom box on top of the garbage can and turn it on.
The driver looks me up and down. I think some of the people on this bus rode in with me this morning.
We pass the Vapor Room, Golden Triangle, Dreams of Kathmandu, Pipe Dreams. A hipster with mutton chops, soul patch, rolling his own. A grandly fat woman, a hundred smooth braids, opens her kid-size umbrella, it just covers her head. A tall brown boy with painfully sweet eyes.
UCSF medical center. A woman is wheeled out strapped tight on a gurney, her face turned up, casually chatting with the orderly.
It's dusk. Blue cell phone glow, flowered umbrella, rain slicker.
I love this city, I love this city, I love this city.