One Who Wanders (abiona) wrote,
One Who Wanders

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Ironed or not, you've got an elbow there and the shirt will wrinkle in a matter of minutes.

On the surface, life here is very different from my Midwestern upbringing: houses are so closely built together, separate residences often function as one solid edifice, and what I thought of in Indiana as a "small garden" qualifies here as an entire "front lawn." Yet, despite the fact that all may seem strange in a sea of parallel-parked cars and alleyways-turned-streets, we are actually quite the same if you think about it. We share cultural staples like McDonalds and Walmart!

When you ride in a car, you isolate yourself ... perhaps not from general stupidity, but from certain sights, sounds, and smells of other people. When you are in your vehicle, it is your choice of music, your choice of company; you are in an extension of your private home, a little bubble environment. When you board a bus, you learn more about people, face to face, than you would have had you driven yourself. You find that the seemingly staid man with the newspaper recognizes and chats easily with the man who now prefers to be known as a "she," that you can smell the very distinct odor of the old lady in front of you (cooked onions), and that you can so clearly hear the woman behind you arguing with her lover over the cellphone ("You're a ****ing golddigger, you piece of ****, I should've known"). Big men can pretend to be Solid Snake in a cardboard box at a con and that interests me not, I'll go on buttering my bagel as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening. But when a woman wearing a tan bathrobe, black fishnets, and houseslippers climbs onto the bus with a large suitcase in one hand and a pair of tennis shoes in the other, I really want to know what her story is.

Anyway, yesterday was a huge day for me. I'm not sure whether I was worked up, psyched up, paranoid about, or whatever concerning the 17th, but for one reason or another I did not sleep well and was completely conscious at 8:30 a.m. My morning routine of shower/clothing/breakfast proceeded as normal. When I applied makeup for the big interview, however, the first big shock of the day struck.

In theory, you're supposed to look better when you put makeup on, right ...? I suppose I did look better, in a way: more like a dinosaur, less like a Photoshop project. It was truly a most astonishing transformation. I use an exfoliating face wash! I use a moisturizer before I put on concealer/base! I didn't look this bad without makeup, so why on earth did I look worse with it? Where did all this gross, unmoisturizable, (un)dead scaly skin come from!? It looked like I had dandruff on my face. I could've applied for Zombie School, my flesh was that questionable in quality. I had originally intended to pin my bangs back because they're almost emo-long, but after witnessing how makeup was choosing to enhance the dead factor rather than disguise it, I changed my mind and decided to conduct the interview from a good long distance if possible.

Then it came time for The Commute, which was both good (I got on the right buses, going the right way, at the right time) and bad (I had no idea it took so long). To get from where I live to where I needed to go took two buses and about two hours, hence the dramatic capitalization. I'm used to taking two hours to get to entirely different sections of states, not just into the suburbs of the same city. While waiting for the second bus, I had a conversation with an old gentleman who told me about how his son was an architect, how not enough young kids went to college these days, good for you that you graduated, and you'll go far because you have a nice smile and a nice personality.

The "interview" was excessively disappointing to me. It was not an interview at all, merely filling out paperwork and taking "grammar and math" tests, which infuriated me. I simply cannot break down the English language into components like "past participles" anymore (not that I ever actually knew what one was or what it does), and so I felt I looked very stupid on the test. But I know I'm not! When I write, the bones I use are larger than text-book constructions; as arrogant as this sounds, I begin with intangibles like ideas, and translate them into full sentences. (I will admit that these are often too long and require editing.) I know that my grasp of the English language is generally impeccable and I can be damned flawless if I so choose, but the test was incapable of reflecting my ability to create and work with words. This made me very irritable. The math portion was, I am afraid, where my urge to be snarky about the whole affair got the better of me.

Q. If there are 300 questions on a test and you scored 89%, how many did you get correct?
A. Not enough.

Once I finished with that, it was around 4:00. I wore a skirt, nylons, heels, put on makeup, this whole mess, just for this? I ironed my shirt for this!? I could've shown up in my jeans like the next dude, I could've been comfortable and warmer. Now I was hungry, cranky, my feet hurt, and on the whole I was just rather pissed off. I had missed the last bus back to the city and now had to wait until 5:22 for the next one. I obtained a sandwich and some ice cream to remedy the first problem, but the second issue rendered me incapable of finishing my dessert (for me not to finish off something sweet is so out of habit, it's almost scary). There was nothing I could do about my feet, so I wandered some more and eventually discovered a Suncoast tucked away into a corner of the mall.

I felt a little better when I got on the bus, but I was still frazzled and quite close to just crying, right there on the bus. I had just been shown what a temporary employment agency is, full-force. I didn't want to live like that, getting shuffled around to fill short jobs of no interest with no guarantee for steady employment. I am, in the end, very much a prideful creature of habit.

The bus meandered up hills, down hills, through parking lots, past the KFC, all in a suburb I decided I rather disliked. This particular bus was one of the older models, so instead of an automated female voice speaking the name of the next stop, you heard the conductor himself, though what "derkbl rgah stay tion derk" meant, I never quite understood until after we had stopped and moved on. By the time we made it back to downtown, the sun had set, and I had missed the bus back home by ten minutes.

This was most unfortunate. The next bus did not arrive until after 8 p.m. ... in short, I had a two hour, standing wait ahead of me, but without the sun or my winter coat, I was freezing. I knew so very little about the street on which I stood, I was afraid. It was like being environmentally illiterate with potentially disastrous consequences. I was so very afraid that I would not get home. Going into the bar with "exotic dancers," or the adult bookstore, or the tavern, though they would've been heated buildings, just seemed more than I could possibly bear, so I resolved to wait.

But I was so cold. I knew I could not run if needed because my feet hurt badly, so I was scared that I was just a sitting duck for some sort of uncharitable person. I was wearing a skirt, which made me feel vulnerable. I talked on my cellphone to seem busy. I called Mr. Dance (one of the two folks I rent the room from) over and over, and left many messages, which I hoped sounded calm ... but I knew, with deep certainty, that they really were quite panicked. The fact that I left such a great number of them was not a sign of confidence either. I called my mother, what else could I do? I needed to talk to someone. When a bus came by that said "east," I asked my mother if the house was east of downtown, and then just got on the bus. I didn't know where it went, or really how to get to where I needed to go, but I was so very cold, and I needed to be doing something, or I would just start to cry.

I asked the man next to me where the bus went, trying to appear chipper. Another passenger, sitting a row ahead, suggested that I get off at a stop, the name of which I did not recognize. When the bus came to a halt, I got off, and hoped I had gotten closer to the house. As it turns out, I had, but at two/three miles in distance and poorly equipped as I was, it was still too far for me to walk. I was too terrified of getting more lost than I already was. Did I look like a whore, hanging out at the bus station at night in a skirt with no coat? I called Mr. Dance. No response. People were walking their dogs in the dark. Did I look like a victim? I was scared. I was cold. I was lonely. Couples were taking nighttime walks, and I hated them for having someone. I cannot tell you how hard it was not to cry. I always cry about things, especially when I am tired or stressed, and I was both at that point. I'm about to cry right now, typing about it. But I did not. I did not.

My cellphone was a bright tiny flipscreen of occupation and hope. I held onto it as I shivered and shook. Mrs. Dance called. She said that Mr. Dance was out, that she would call him on his cellphone and have him pick me up. Now, all I could do was stay put and try to not break down. Sometimes, when you get so cold, you actually feel warm and your body stops shaking, even though logically, you know you're not warm at all, this is just an illusion! After about five seconds of this false comfort, your body realizes that it's merely deluding itself, and you start shaking again, colder than ever. Stress and the chill translated into such a great physical quake, I worried that I looked drunk when I walked. I sat on a handrail instead, trying to look like I meant to be there. Hah! I'm sure I didn't fool a soul who saw me there that night.

When Mr. Dance appeared, I hopped hobbled quivered over to the station wagon and got in, incredibly thankful for the heating. My mother called. As we drove back to the house, I saw another bus stop and realized that had I but walked a block from the bus stop I had just been having a life crisis at, I could've gotten onto a bus that would've taken me almost to my damn doorstep. Knowledge is power?

In summary: good day, very educating, but very stressful and exhausting. One last thing ... there is a career fair tomorrow that I'm going to go to. I hope they do not mind my resumes looking very unpolished; I will explain to them that I just moved and thus, it's a miracle I have any at all.
Tags: is your heart in the right place?

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