The bus from Palm Springs to downtown LA broke down in a tiny, nameless desert town. Nobody spoke English. The bus driver didn’t speak English. The man sitting next to me—an overjoyed, perpetually smiling character who was traveling with his large family and who kept offering me pieces of some kind of Mexican flatbread—couldn’t speak English. We all filed off the bus and I stood looking lost and unfortunate with my suitcase and camera bag and an almost-dead phone. I found a seat on a folding chair next to the side of the one room bus station, currently closed. Pretty soon a young couple—two teenage girls dressed in dirty tank tops and Converse sneakers—approached me. They hung onto each other uncomfortably, lips locked and coming up for air only to ask me the occasional question. Do you know what the fuck’s going on? Nobody speaks English, right? We can’t get through to customer service.
When the next bus came—finally, hours later—only one of them got on. She sat next to me. I wrote about her, briefly, here.
In front of us were three more teenagers: a girl and two boys. They were high on something, could barely keep their eyes opened. They giggled at the air.
We saw you making out with that girl, one of them said. That’s cool though. You’re a lesbian.
She’s my girlfriend, my seatmate said. I don’t think she ever introduced herself.
That’s nice, that’s cool. How did you meet her? Why are you leaving her behind?
We met online, she said.
How long have you been together?
Oh, only the last couple hours. We only met for the first time at the bus stop.
She had another girlfriend back home in Minnesota, she explained.
She was one of those people who talks fast and high and offers you whatever she has—food or drinks or hits from a moist joint. One of those people who want so much to be talked to and to be listened to that they’ll say anything they think you want to hear. She was entertaining. She kept those three teenagers transfixed for the three hours to LA. I put my headphones on and closed my eyes and felt the dust of the desert on every square inch of my skin.
I thought about her last night when I couldn’t sleep. I woke up around midnight to a dream about spiders and I lay in bed with the lights out playing Hearts on my phone. I don’t know what made me think of her. Probably just—she was fascinating. She was young and she was scared and she was fascinating. And who knows how much of what she said was true. It doesn’t really matter anyway. It was all because she wanted someone to talk to her. It was all because she didn’t want to be alone.
photograph taken with a Canon 60D in Palm Springs