Now serving 347. Number 347.
When I got to the front of the line I was told I needed to go to another DMV. She handed me a post-it size of paper with the address so she wouldn't have to explain it to me. Next!
I'm not going to go through the whole day. You get the idea. I know I've told a version of this story before. But by the time I was sent to a 4th building, I was barely human, I could still move, still see and hear but I was in shark mode, or rather sea bass, just a blank staring mindless creature in motion. I was driving in the ghetto, under the overpass, a place pretty much abandoned except for a few little crack houses and (evidently) the California Highway Patrol office. Everything was grey, even the few homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk. But then I turned (Siri, in her gentle, maddening voice said: Turn right on Union Street) and all of a sudden it was like I was in Oz. Every house was a different color: purple, orange, light blue, yellow, pink. The street was like an abandoned movie set. Bouganvilleas hung over fences, little stores had hand-painted signs. I sat up, I looked, I noticed. There wasn't a single person around, but up ahead I saw a tiny little face peeking over the fence. He was staring right at me! He was about 5 or 6 and had black curly hair. I stared right back and then raised my eyebrows twice. He did the same. I made a face. He did the same. We both smiled at each other, lifted shoulders, crinkled eyes, and then his head disappeared in a flash and I saw a man in a white undershirt yelling at him in a tumbletwirl of Spanish. There was a pause and the boy slowly lifted his head up again and looked right at me and waved, still smiling big. Good Bye! Adios! I love you muchacho. I wanted to grab my phone so I could take a photo, but by the time I found it, he had disappeared again. Instead I took a photo of the little bakery across the street. I had to!
This all happened in less than a minute; but my day was changed. I felt energized, I felt hungry, I felt light. I still had to go through some more rigamarole with the Highway Patrol but whatev! no big! I was almost done. I had an exchange, a connection, I felt like a person again. Once I got there, I waited in the parking lot for my boss who had to come meet me. I opened the car door so I could feel the air and sun all at once. I answered some emails. I wrote some notes to myself. I thought about the person I wanted to think about. Josh arrived about 10 minutes later.
I just drove by a dead body.
Drove right next to it in the street. Look!
He pointed up in the sky and a helicopter was hovering right above us, the tail of it wagging slowly back and forth.
Over there on Union. A guy, face down in a white undershirt.
The one with the colorful buildings?
Yeah, right in front of the bakery.
I re-wound the video in my hand from ten minutes ago, littlefaceplayingmonkeysillylovefunmanabandonedstreetlookoutWWHHHAA?
"So where's the fuckin cop I gotta talk to?" Josh asked.
I pointed with my thumb to the station house, "I'll be in in a second", I said.
I don't know if I told this story right. I left out a lot of little details. I left out the list of things I want and don't have. Maybe I should have started with the dead body. Or how I wonder about death. When we say things can go from this to that in a second, that's what we are usually talking about. But really, life and the opposite of life are going on at the same time, it's just our focus that shifts. I wonder if I find this photo in a couple of years, which side of the street I will remember first.