My eyes flickered up from my book when he stepped onto the bus. He didn't have the look of the "blue collar" worker like most of the others that ride the bus with me into town. He elicited the same stares that I had received when I first started taking this bus.

He wore a light grey and white striped business shirt with light grey matching slacks, very sharp looking. He was clean shaven and wore his hair cropped close, also sharp. I was startled to see white sneakers where I had expected black dress shoes. Sneakers? Forrest Gump came to mind.

"I'" He spoke in the same slow manner of "Forrest" as well. Knowing smirks appeared on the faces nearby. He fumbled around until he found a quarter in his pocket. (I'm thinking the driver is feeling charitable today to give a discount.)

My book long forgotten, I try to watch without appearing to watch. I feign disinterest while trying to commit to memory every detail of this man.

He sits down behind the driver, promptly turning around in his seat backwards to gaze out the window. He reminds me of a boy who is expectantly waiting for his father to return home from work with a treat. He smiles a wide happy smile as he waves to the cars passing by. Then, he turns to face inside and leans far forward holding onto the pole beside him so as not to fall, so he can see out the front window.

I am held transfixed by his boyish wonder. What does he see? What makes him smile? I try to "SEE" what he is seeing. I want to see things with fresh eyes. I envy him his view.

He doesn't seem to notice the others staring, smirking, or whispering amongst themselves in spanish. I have not let on that I understand their taunts. They make me sad.

He turns backwards again to look out the window. This time he looks up. He has the glow of a child who's just discovered a wondrous treasure. I don't even pretend to not be watching him anymore. I want to see too! I lean over to look out the window.

There's a balloonist in the sky! I never would have noticed the red/orange/golden sunburst floating serenely in the sky if not for him. It's the first balloon I've seen in months. I saw them often in my other life. It's beautiful! It makes me smile. I want to do that, ride free on the air currents going whichever way the breeze blows.

I almost forget to pull the bell to signal my stop. I would rather see what other things he can show me. He turns to watch ME now as I walk past. I give my customary thanks and goodbyes to the driver, expanding my gaze and smile to include "Forrest" as well.

"Goodbye beautiful lady!"

I choose to ignore the amused looks and hushed laughter as I accept from a guileless stranger that which I find hard accepting from others.

He was very sweet and not at all smooth.

DEAR journel
i took bus today to the city to seeabout a job
my castworker set up the uppointmont and i had to take the bus
i got my suit on and waited where they told me and it came and i got on
the driver let me sit up front by him and i was lucky that no body was sitting there
it was a quiet bus with no yelling or nuthin cept some people speaking forin langweg or somethin
i got to see a balloon also
a big one, not like one for little kids
it was real big and looked like pretend or a cartoon or somethin but it was real and pretty and i could see it out the window of the bus when we werent moving
cept for tall houses and stuff
it was a good day and i ate a hotdog i bought from a man who sold them on the street
oh also may be got the job but he will call my castworker
ps extra
a pretty lady was on the bus looking at the balloon too
i said hi to her and she dident get mad or call me names or nuthin
i like the bus a lot

They walk by together and drop their suitcases to the floor with a exhausted thump. Mom slumps down on the bench to decipher their scheduled departure time and gate from ticket stub. They are : coats and scarves layered extra thick. Mom is patient, Daughter is restless. Pacing, prowling. I am given a once over as she walks by, and recieve a smile when I look back and make eye contact. On the return trip to Mom's bench she asks, can she sit down next to me? This is good because I have been watching the clock wishing it would spin faster for the last fifteen minutes.

do you know what time it is
are you on the bus that leaves gate nine?
Do you know Juliet Roberts?
no, do you?
i dont know her but i wish i did.
do you know if the bus is going to california?

i'm not sure. check the departures list there, the bus number is 6521
you are going to california?
are you going for a vacation down there?
yes. um no.
growing up was real bad, sucked
people picked on me a lot, they made fun of me, they were mean
Do you know Juliet Roberts?

no, i don't
i am really tired
and sort of bored

who was mean to you
at school, they were mean.
where are you from?

where are you from?
xxxx, are you from here originally?
yes. they were so mean to me.
are your parents from xxxx?

no,my parents moved out here from back east when my mother was pregnant with my sister.
do you have any brothers or sisters?
yes, a sister who is two years older than i am
Do you know Juliet Roberts?
oh, no i don't
Have you met her?
Are you from Hollywood?
no, i live down in xxxx
how old are you?
twenty four
I am twenty two
Have you ever met Juliet Roberts?

no, i dont think i have
are you married?
no, are you?
do you have a girlfriend?
um okay bye it was nice to meet you

Mother to Daughter :
Did you ask him about Julia Roberts?
now why you ask that all the time?
i...cant help it
we got different taste in men, now see him over there....ya that one.....

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