The Greyhound in Chicago is just as sad as I remember. I took a Lyft to get there, for the first time in my life because I’ve become a Eurowimp and don’t have the instincts for dicey neighborhoods anymore and it seems like cabs are no longer a thing.
The driver was from Bulgaria. Living the dream.
I’d planned on taking the ‘El’ and walking over. I’d bought a 24 hour pass and it was good for another few hours. So I walked outside the bus station and looked for someone to give it to.
Found two nice looking young gangsters. They pocketed it, blessed me and hugged me, and asked me to pray for them. They were trying to get me into a conversation but I ducked back in where the security guard was. Like I said, Eurowimp.
I went to the toilet, which was about as dirty as I would have imagined but not so bad. No surprises. There was a woman there doing the bathroom sink shower. She had whatever those pimples are, Hep C or AIDS. Signs of an unhappy liver.
She was talking to another woman, giving a long explanation. She lived with a doctor, but he wasn’t a doctor anymore. There was some story about prostitutes on Tinder. She was a working girl herself. I only half listened. She made me want to cry.
Back in line for the bus, a man with almost no teeth was thanking god out loud, and blessing all of us. (With the two gangbangers, I was thus thrice blessed this morning.)
Another man was saying how happy he was to be seeing his family, but he was overly emotional and smelled of alcohol. The woman in front of me smelled like a joint.
We waited in line for a long time. The toothless man said we were like cattle being led to a trough. I think he meant ‘being led to the slaughter’ but all those old English spellings are the same, right? Thorough, trough, through, slaughter…
Leaving the city, we drove under bridges riddled with rust, and close to a neighborhood where I used to live. Gentrified these days.
It’s was all pretty sad. It’s the closest I’ll get to real poverty, and the hopelessness that goes along with it. I’ve let myself forget. Like cows being led to the trough, but the trough is empty. People’s stomachs aren’t empty, but their lives seem to be. Maybe I’m judging to harshly. Or maybe I can’t see through the sadness.
I hang on to Foro like a lifeline to a happier place. He does what he can to help me, but it’s hard to fight it today. I’m going to see my father. It could well be my last visit. I repeat to myself the things that often help, but today they are empty words. I say them anyway.
May we be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to us. May no difficulties come to us. May no problems come to us. May we always meet with success.
May we have the patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems and failures in life. — Bante Gunaratana