My first bus transfer is stamped purchased at 3:16 PM, and it expires at 6:16 PM. Its a new electronic transfer they are rolling out: helpful to have the exact time defined, but it is also an incredibly flimsy piece of paper, likely to get crumpled in my wallet. But it gives me a three hour time window to define my coming actions. Sitting next to me on the bus is another module: a box that originally contained 24 2 pound bags of United States Department of Agriculture rice, and the box was something I had carried home from the food bank. It currently contains an incomplete John Coltrane box set, a shortwave radio, and some trade paperbacks that are wrapped up in a plastic Walgreen's box to protect them from the rain. Also, a disassembled end table, something I bought for three dollars or so in Brookings, Oregon, and which I've carried with me faithfully through moves. It was with me during the worst week of my life, and so I derive some comfort from it, and feel some loyalty to it. This particular module is going into storage, along with almost everything else that defines my life.
I had half an hour previously had a discussion with my father about my housing situation, and which had brought to a head feelings of discomfort I had staying with him. It was perhaps made worse by the fact that I had a bad cold, and had woken up to a breakfast of iced tea mixed with gingerale and the remains of a box of peanut butter M&M's that I had bought at the Dollar Tree. But at least now, I knew what I was going to do.
It took three different buses to get to my storage space, even though it is only a few miles away. The clerk is polite as I pay my rent three months ahead. The front gate is open. The storage space is a collection of long, low warehouses off of the second main drag in this town, and I am happy I can remember where my unit it is. The code to get in punches through on the first try. I am worried about getting the key into the padlock of my unit, but after some prodding, it gets in and I lift the deadbolt. There is still plenty of room there: despite how rushed I was back in July, when I filled this room, I did a good job. The U-Haul 1 by 1 foot boxes are stacked neatly. On the floor, there is an open box: most of the mail I've ever gotten is in it (quite a bit sent from people who might be reading this). It looks a bit absurd, the open box filled with messy stacked letters, in this cold room in a warehouse. After finishing here, I turn around ask the clerk if I can use the restroom. He unlocks it, explaining that he had to lock it because it had been vandalized.
I cross the street in the rain. There is a cute, short girl with a round face and a headscarf who tells me I have missed my bus. It turns out that I haven't. At the next stop, in the rain, I walk down the road just because I need to burn some energy. I look at my bus transfer and realize that if I want to make a second trip to storage, I will have to go to the bank. It is right after 5 PM, and I am thinking of getting a 20 from the ATM and then breaking it up at the library in the mall. I also realize that I am getting hungry. I try to think of ways that I can get money, get change, and get food, and get on the bus before that 6:16 time is reached. It turns out that the bank is still open and the teller gives me the money I need. Rushing back into the mall I go to Subway and get a six inch veggie: I forget to ask for extra cheese, and only get three vegetables. Its after 5 PM and my first meal of the day that isn't M&Ms. The girl behind the counter must have put extra mayonnaise on it because that is the first thing I notice when I bite into it, or else I am just primed to accept the illusion of indulgence as I eat my sandwich in the rain at a transit center. I get on another bus, and not until I am about to get off do I realize my hat is missing. This hat will be the subplot of the second adventure. I call the bank and my hat isn't there.
I grab another modular blue box, transparent light blue plastic full of books and some stuff that I insist is sentimental for some reason or another. There are copies of Mason & Dixon and The Satanic Verses in there, books I thought I would read and that I've been carrying with me, even though it would probably be easier to give them away and just check them out from the library if I were ever to read them. When I get on the bus, the transfer (a paper one, made on newsprint), gets wet when it touches the rain splattered surface of the box. I think about asking for another one, but notice that my transfer is drying quickly from the buses' blowing heat. I take a different route this time, on the way there, one with only two buses. It goes quicker. The gate is still open. I get the key combo and the padlock quicker this time, as well. Its late enough that the buses are running on a less frequent schedule, and I walk most of a few miles back. The rain has let off yet. Oh, and along the way, I look for my hat everywhere. At bus stops. In my unit. On the ground. When I get to the mall, I go to the Subway. They tell me to check in the security office, a door down a hallway that has always seemed somewhat foreboding to me. When I knock on it, it isn't opened by a mythically dour and jowly old white man, but by a young black guy who tells me "sorry, no hats". I walk to the bank, and on the way back, I find my hat, in the middle of the road, soaked through. I had taken it off when approaching the bank and stuck it hastily in my pocket, and it had dropped because of that. Not that foolish of a mistake on my part: I usually wear a low hanging hat and a neckgaiter over my mouth, and the consequences of going into a bank with them on could be much worse than a missing hat. I come home. My life is two modules less confusing now, and I can take off my wet clothing. I make a bagel, quickly, two presliced pieces of cheese inside of whole wheat, and eat that before going upstairs and writing this. I make some more gingerale and iced tea, and remember I have some Walgreen's store brand cookies.
Its been observed that the foods that taste best for us are the worst. This isn't true: after volunteering at the food bank, I have come to see taking home pumpkin pie and donuts as a sacrifice to lower our garbage bills. Lentils, though, lentils are exquisite. Lentils are also messy and take preparation. Foods that taste good and are good for us are rarely easy. Even apples present problems: they go bad quickly, and they leave a core behind. The thick fibrous foods that take a morning to prepare, and where the preparation is half the fun, are only fun when you can expand and trust your surroundings, where you don't have to be guarded, where it is okay to be make a mess. Also, where gulping down a meal isn't based on what time your bus transfer expires. I sometimes imagine such a place, talk and mingled laughter and the whistling of a tea kettle while looking at a dew-lined garden from a warm kitchen. And then I remember where I am, always having to squirrel away dry, non-perishable carbs because I always, always feel like I am going to have to run for it at any moment.