The air was crisp, and dark, and it bit at my fingers.
My fingers, as it happens, were decisively wrapped about the handle of a wheelie-bag filled with expensive clothing, while the rest of me just waited for a bus. My mind was sloshing around some part of my brain trying to avoid the idea of “morning”. It was succeeding splendidly, as there was certainly no sunlight to argue otherwise. And everything was damp.
And so, I sat at my favorite bus stop on a Tuesday morning with a valuable suitcase, slowly collecting dew, staring at a spot of coffee I had spilled on the bag and trying to avoid eye contact with the homeless man next to me as the digital display informing passengers how soon the bus would arrive counted upwards. I was concerned because the bag wasn’t really mine, per se, and because the generic, scruffy San Franciscan homeless man seemed more interested in the bag than anything else.
The bus eventually came 15 minutes late. I stepped through the doorway and thought of my poor little breakfast sandwich sitting on a plate in my apartment, all alone with no one to eat it, forgotten and abandoned by its creator. I frowned.
I swiped my MUNI card and trundled toward the back of the bus, and only then did I realize – despite the fact I had sneaked in just 3 hours of sleep before my alarm went off (thus denoting, obviously, that it was very, very early) – that this bus was inexplicably packed to the brim with strangers.
This seemed nothing short of an insurmountable challenge as my eyes still squinted from the brightness of the lights. I turned back in the off-chance that a new seat had just appeared in the doorway behind me by some impossible magical means, but my eyes fell only upon the scruffy man, who had mysteriously produced an enormous orange in his hands. His eyes met mine and he gestured toward me with a piece of the orange, palm up, as though an offering. I waived my own hand passively and shook my head at the fruit. Scruffy was suddenly very upset, his eyes widening and disbelief filling his gaze. He had not been offering me the orange at all, I would shortly learn, but was gesturing for me to move forward; and yet I can only reason that my denial of this treat that he was not even offering to begin with was so audacious to this man that it was an affront to his very being. He exited the bus two stops later, shouting and cursing and glaring at me the whole while with shifty, focused eyes fit for a confrontation with heresy.
Thus began my journey to Sacramento. . . .