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'm...going...to...city...hall...How...much...is...it?" 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.