First day back on the 358. We're filling up, and cruising into Virginia. A ragtag, kaleidoscopic assemblage is milling about, as usual.
I see gold teeth glinting in the crowded afternoon, and can't help grinning to myself. I know who that is.
"This boy don't HAAA' no license!" he hollers, very nearly frightening the people on the sidewalk as they file in.
"Heeyyy!" I yell with enthusiasm. From the looks on the passengers' faces, I can see my response is unexpected; most of them don't know me. Yet.
"Somebody call th' authorities, we got us a underage bus driver here!"
It's his refrain, and I enthusiastically play along.
"I got no idea what I'm doin'! I was walking home from elementary school, somebody gave me uniform, and I found this empty bus here..."
"Don't let this boy get away with this! You see this little kid here?" he says to unsuspecting lady.
Mock despair: "I know how to drive trolley buses, but I can't grow no beard!"
"Somebody done gave him th' uniform. You know he only old enough for a learner's permit!"
"Good to see you again."
"How's it goin'?"
A ladyfriend of his boarded with him, and she calls him from the back to join her, but he's too elated by the budding sense of community at the front: "Hang on, girl, I'm talkin' to my boy here!"
"That's my sister," he says in a practically apologetic tone. "You at least gotta grow a mustache or somethin', this' gettin' outta hand,"
"Oh, you know it. I need a top hat. Glad to see you're still around!"
We talk of our shared hometown of LA, where he had recently visited. We glory in recognizing the streets and locations the other is talking about. He tells me of a club at Sunset and Ivar he was particularly pleased to visit- "we got there early, 'cause it's crowded. Got to get there around 4 or so."
"Hang on. This place is jumpin' at 4pm?"
"Oh yeah. And lemme tell you, them younger boys was hatin' on me, man!" Meaning the women found him attractive.
"See, you still got it!"
"Those lovely ladies walk right past them, comin' over to me!"
"Look at you!" In a more serious tone I say, "confidence. That's what it is."
"Yeah. How you carry yourself."
"Don't matter how old you are, all the other stuff people say,"
"Yeah, I took my son, and he was gettin' angry! At me!"
We laugh over the absurdity of the situation. Outside a diviner is walking amongst some construction rubble, evidently searching for precious metals.
"Oh man, will you look at that. Lookin' for gold at Aurora and 65th!"
"I think maybe someone's goin' home empty handed tonight!"
"Poor guy better hang on to that day job!"
His sister comes up to the front after a time, and I introduce myself. "Lovely to meet you, young lady. Thank you both for stoppin' by!"
She's all compliments. We continue blabbing on matters of minimal consequence.
There was a transcendance in the air, something special; the chatter was as profane as ever, slurred words and dumb observations adding up to something larger. They say transcendance lies at the intersection of the mundane and the sublime. We weren't really talking about clubs or underage jokes; we were expressing a generosity for each other, a respect and love for this happy life, strengthening the bonds of attitude, connections between each other and between ourselves and the fading twilight, the fresh-cut grass, the buzzing gnats and the world at large. That was the meaning of those sounds.
Complimenting Sho Luv's (incredibly, the name he goes by) hat meant more than that. It was an affirmation of years spent on this Earth, amongst each other- laughing, complaining, talking wisdom and nonsense. There is something elusive underneath such chatter, at times better hinted at through surface talk than with the blocky nerve endings of confessional dialogue. It's not about the content of the words, but their texture, the sliding meanings that drift underneath them.