The Occidental Tourist

Snow on Occidental Avenue (by flickr user hellothomas, Creative Commons License)

Because of a mechanical malfunction, the morning bus was cancelled. There’s nothing to do but wait for the next one, which doesn’t leave for three hours. The train station coffeeshop is, as tradition dictates, full of bathroom stall jokes and politics. (“how many teamsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 8. What, you got a problem with that?”) It’s St. Patrick’s Day and it’s snowing. I mean, it isn’t really snowing. When you’re walking through it, it’s just white rain, and it feels miserable. But not when you’re sitting by the window of the coffeeshop. The almost dragonfly-sized flakes of the slop twirl through the brick and lantern streetscape, and all feels merry and bright. It’s a picture postcard for historical preservation in cold climates, complete with coffee and a muffin.

Our bus driver is an Englishman with some kind of northern accent. It is almost his duty to have forgotten about the St. Patrick’s Day parade – and so we sit in traffic as any street he considers is blocked off. If it’s any consolation, the snow has turned to icy rain, so the paraders are now unphotogenic as well as exceptionally miserable. One can only hope they’re filled with Irish cheer or Dutch courage to make it easire to bear. Three hours of driving, and we’ve cleared the border. Incongruously, it’s two hours due north, but it feels two hours warmer and sunnier. We wait for the bus itself to be cleared and through the glass, I see the bus driver and border guard engage in a conversation which I can only guess at from the gestures. I imagine a little scene of this exchange happening in some dusty alternate world. The gestures getting more and more animated and bizarre until the border guard pulls his, gun shoots the bus driver point blank. The passengers all see it, but hear nothing. I guess we’ll have to go on by foot, then. I suppose the bus isn’t actually that soundproof.

My father picks me up. He’s celebrating his birthday. Time to go to mom and dad’s and drink 9 kinds of wine. Happy Birthday, dad!

***

When I get back to mom and dad’s after going downtown, there’s an extra bike in the garage. I don’t know whose bike it is, so I don’t know how appropriate it would be to write in “only” on the “my bike is my friend” sticker, but I really want to.

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One Response to The Occidental Tourist

  1. Pingback: Irish-Tinged Memories | Rated Zed

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