The faces you see, glancingly, across the years, are living full and storied lives of their own. Nearly three years ago I wrote: A red-faced man in construction clothing steps on through the back door at Maynard, recognizing me, the driver way up there, and shoots me a big wave, which I enthusiastically return.
That was all I knew of him then. Some guy with a reddish face and a smile.
Then, in November of 2012, he came up to the front of the bus. This is from November 26:
'I'm gonna be a father soon,' a Caucasian man tells me at Rainier and Brandon. He's young, tough, with sun-scarred skin, a lot of sharp edges and tattoos. But his voice is as gentle as can be. "Congratulations," I said at the time.
Over a year later [Winter of 2013] I saw him on the 358, clear on the other side of the county, and I recognized him instantly. With him was his girl and a baby basket. "Heeyyyy, dude!" I say. He lights up.
"Is this the new baby?"
"Yeah!" he says, still the same odd amalgam of genial roughneck. He lifts up a blanket to show me the baby, who is cute, pudgy, and sleeping. He doesn't say too much else, but his happiness is palpable. You feel him growing into himself.
Then, last night, a scattered group was boarding at Mount Baker Transit Center.
"How's it goi– Heeeyyy! What's goin' on, dude!"
It was him again. My what's goin' on was spoken slightly slower and with emphasis, as if to say, "it is you, and boy, has it been eons!"
He returned a silent smile, closed but wide, which on his stoic face meant, "heeeeeyyyyy!"
"Good to see you!"
Bone-crushing handshake, one stroke, up and down.
"How's your kid?"
"Good. He's good. Two years old. He's big,"
"And getting bigger. Birthday on the fifteenth of next month!"
"That's so awesome! That's fantastic!"
I wonder what that baby's up to right now, this minute. All this life, happening while I'm busy with my own. Wonder when I'll see him next.