At the gas station, we're behind a black SUV with Arizona plates. Gothic lettering across the back window reads "So Cal." Much smaller, tucked into a corner of the window it says, "One love."
The driver gets out, a shave-headed kid with tattoos creeping down his calves. His wife dismounts from the passenger side. She's blond, taller than him, her hair in a ponytail. As she unfolds, I see she is pregnant. They don't speak, pointedly looking anywhere but into each other's faces.
We go to IHOP for lunch, the International House of Pancakes. Behind us sits a cowboy, hat shadowing his eyes, talking on a cell phone. The place is crowded. Near the wall sit three people and a baby. The young man reminds me of one of my brothers, thin and buzzing with energy. Across the table is the young mother, her mouth in a voluptuous pout, leftover pregnancy fat still pushing her belly out. She looks fourteen. She's eating like she hasn't seen food in months, jiggling her foot beneath the table. Beside her is her mother, no older than forty-two. She and the young man are talking earnestly in Spanish. The young mother looks bored. She puts the baby into a carrier on the floor, rocking it with her foot. She pulls the young man's plate over and tucks in.
To my right is a freckled girl with her family. She cinches her hood down around her face, hiding from her family, from everyone. In front of her is a dark-eyed girl who looks like she is just now beginning to realize how beautiful she is. Her smile is brilliant, blinding.