March 10, 2014
After my putting in the five quarters, the machine gives back a strange, bronze coin. Is it the bus token? Or change? Not sure, I pocket it and hope for the best. Wait, let me try it again. Same thing. Now I have two beaten-up bronze coins.
I walk up the block, following the crowd, and ask someone.
“Yes,” he says. “You are supposed to get a token back that keeps you from getting a fine for not paying.” I’ll get on anyway and hope for the best. Maybe they waive the penalty for newcomers, I think. Am I thinking I’m special, that I don’t have to go by the rules? But I did pay; I’m following the rules.
About to board the bus, I can’t find the change I need. I’ll do the courteous thing, and hold back until I figure out my money, so others can board. But a man glowers at me.
“Are you going or not?”
I tell him to go ahead, but he keeps ranting about me.
As I settle into a seat, he comes down the aisle and keeps looking at me.
“Don’t worry,” he says. “I will ignore you as soon as I sit down.”
That was bad timing. I see that he is the man who is in the apartment I’m visiting. The family is going to give me a ride. Will they get going? I’ll be late. The couple is acting out a play. Slowly. Seems to be a play that doesn’t go anywhere. How did such a thing get produced?
A young woman in another room says she knows the couple will not really move out of the apartment, because of the baby they had here. They agree, but point out she herself is the baby, now grown up. They feel they can leave, because she will inherit the apartment. “The baby will still be here!” They discuss how things are more orderly since she stopped having her friends over to drink.
The glowering man is warming up to me, now that he gets to know me better. His wife shows me through the apartment, and I marvel at the beauty. The stove is ceramic, a polished, deep beige painted with gorgeous pink and blue flowers. The rest of the kitchen is painted ceramic, too. Luscious and stunning. Reminds me of the museum I’m trying to get to. I have just enough time to get there, then make it to dinner with B., in time for the theater later this evening.
After walking a few blocks to the bus stop, I try to call my mother. A few failed attempts – I have to stop while trying to get on the bus and figure out my fare – I get through. I want to explain to her that I’m living one bus stop away from the old apartment on McDonald Avenue. She will appreciate the irony. And to tell her my schedule for the day. She doesn’t need to know but I want to tell her anyway, though I’m not sure why it’s so important to me for her to know.
But will I even make it to the museum on time? Does this bus go there? My new friends try to help me figure it out. I find the museum info in a battered, overflowing file I’ve been lugging around along with three shoulder bags that don’t want to stay on my shoulder. The museum pamphlet is embarrassingly beaten up. Ah, as I thought, its name is indeed the Spuyten Duyvil Museum of Early NYC Dutch Culture. Maybe I need to take a cab part of the way. It’s a challenge, but if I get there today, I have no extra entrance fee because it’s part of the complex of museums I visited in the morning. And I love early NYC Dutch history.
The radio blasts by the train teller’s booth: The middle class will suffer in the economy this next year, thanks to Congress. That means me. I will not have enough money, but somehow it will work out, I’m sure. I hope. I like visiting museums.
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