People Who Need People. . .November 16, 2007 at 5:28 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
. . . .And people who don’t. . ..
Well, we made it back from our trip pretty much okay, which you wouldn’t have known because we don’t have internet access. I didn’t read the fine print on the DSL contract; apparently they want that money EVERY MONTH.
So let’s talk about the trip. Having exhausted our resources, we drove Nigel, my fifteen year old Mazda MX-3. I was concerned. . .
About a number of things. First of all, he’s fifteen years old, which is old for a car. Lots of things could go wrong. Secondly, I had just *had* him worked on–usually something else breaks when that happens. And also: we were going to bring alot of Alex’s stuff up to him. . .and bring back with us . . . a *surprise*!
We knew this going up, that we were going to be bringing back Detroit’s sister. In a nutshell (ironically): she has emotional and psychological problems, and has spent a lot of time homeless. She has meds, but has trouble finding a job. Maybe it’s the interview process–?
But despite what my conspiracy-soaked friend The Dude says, the economy is not bad. Not here, at least. But in Michigan, brother, they have problems. So we are going to bring her back with us (!), let her stay with us (!!), and help her get on her feet and be independent (!!!)
So my concerns about the car revolve around bringing that load back with us, that far. Not that it’s that much, but that it is that much for that *small car*. Nigel was made to haul around, at most, four small Japanese people, weighing in at 118 pounds, plus a few groceries, like sushi and rice and seaweed. Am I stereotyping? Does the Pope shit in the woods?
And I realize now that the trip was not about the trip; it was about the people. I just deleted a bunch of crap that was about the trip. Not interesting. So:
Carol and Phil are the parents of one of Alex’s friends, and that’s who he stays with. They are nice people. Very nice–taking in Alex. But he wasn’t the first. There was another teen they took in as well. Honestly, there were people all over the place. It was like a bus station, but cleaner. And no drug deals.
We got to meet their very large extended family, all of whom seemed to live there. Also, Alex’s friends. The next day they all took off of school to visit with Detroit; it may have just been an excuse to skip school. I got to meet Saira, finally. The girl who Alex claims is not his girlfriend, but she really is. She is very sweet, and very nice, and very pretty. Probably too good for him.
I worked on their computer, cleaned it up a bit, made it run faster. I thought it was the least I could do since they let us stay there. Carol and Detroit talked a bit–I think Carol had some venting to do and was glad to have a woman to vent to. Not about Alex, but about the kids in general, extended family, step-kids, blah blah blah. I heard her say once, shaking her head, "I’m just the step-mom."
So the situation may be alot for her, but overall I think she likes it. She likes having all the people and kids around. I feel sad for Detroit; I know she likes it too. Late at night, Carol was sitting on the couch watching her tv show with just one daughter, which I guess was the closest she could get to alone time. So I sat with them for a while, waiting for the computer to finish its activity.
It seems to me like what they have is what I’ve wanted, but I swear I can’t stand that much of it.
We took Alex with when we went up northwest-ish. Detroit showed me where she had lived, and we visited her brother Chuck, and her sister Margaret was staying there with him. This was the exact opposite of Phil and Carol’s. It wasn’t a big house with lots of people, it was the smallest apartment I had ever seen, with two people. Adding us three, it was crowded. The place was about ten by ten, that was the living room-kitchen-dining room-family room. Upstairs, the same size or smaller was the bedroom, master bath suite, and library. I really have seen closets that big.
Chuck seemed. . .easily annoyed. He has a way, a certain way–of doing EVERYTHING. He does not like to have his routine interrupted. Of course, his routine does not consist of much–eating, sleeping, and walking to work–but he likes his routine the way it is. He’s single, oddly enough, and never been married. He admits to being too set in his ways now, which was an incredible understatement.
Margaret seemed mousy and quiet. I guess she was just trying to stay out of her brother’s way, which was kind of like trying to someone’s view of the sky. I’m sure I’ll find out more about her. But we left her there that day, telling her we would get her the next day.
We then visited Pat, a friend of Detroit’s. First of all, I was never clear on this: Did she or did she not "go out with him"? Were they together at one time? Did she ever bang him? And why does it matter? I don’t think I ever got a straight answer.
He is an older man, and not what I expected. I expected taller, and thinner. I don’t know why. Both he and Chuck worked at the same sugar factory, the town’s life-blood. They both had things to say about each other as well. And they both…
This is strictly a guy thing. You can pick up subtle clues about people from little things, and this is not a little thing, it’s a big thing. The handshake. Each one offered their hand like it was a cold, wet carp. And that’s what I felt like I was holding. I have an understanding of why Chuck is like that: he just doesn’t . . .like *people.* Fear of intimacy, or however you want to analyze him. He doesn’t want to be close.
So I don’t know what it says about Pat.
Pat was nice, very social. All these people have their own very odd and unique way of living. He has a six year old daughter who was very sweet. Rambunctious. From what I understand, the mother– a younger woman–wanted nothing to do with her? Of all the odd things I saw, that one actually hurt me.
Detroit read a little to her, in the dark house. I understand having lights off in the room you aren’t in, but the room you ARE should have a goddamn light on. And I have wide peripheral vision, so out of the side of my eye, I see a whole area that is dark, and it bugs me. I like light. That’s why I leave the lights on, asshole. I mean honey.
It was an older house, it seemed. Or maybe it was just ramshackle. I don’t know. It reminded me, though, of visiting my dad’s friends with him, when I was a child in the 70’s.
Pat showed us his spread. Out back, in the dark, and cold, and light rain, we walked to his pigeon shed, and his chicken shed. The little girl would grab various birds, hold them and pet them, and then proffer them to me. It was sweet.
The we went to see Detroit’s friend Judy, and her. … .ah. ..the guy living with her, Casey. First we had to get past the dogs, and then Casey introduced himself as Judy’s boyfriend. But they slept in separate rooms? Not buying, Jack. His handshake was firm but brief, and he quickly withdrew his tiny Asian hand. He had no doubt been taught by someone so that he could mimic American customs.
Judy was nice. We sat and talked, and Casey was on his best behavior that evening. The house was.. .. cluttered. I mean, as bad as my parents house was *before* my mom died, and we all cleaned it THE FIRST TIME. Detroit never saw it. But seeing this made me want to grab Judy by the shoulders and shake her like an infant. Later I found there was a reason for it: everything was still in probate, so she didn’t want to get rid of anything.
The next morning, she treated us to breakfast before she had to go to work, we said our goodbyes, and then went to a park to chill for a while, because it was still early, and we were putting of picking up Margaret.
While at the park, I discussed with Detroit My Plan. Spoiler Alert: Ultimately, it was going to work out for the best. The town itself was pleasant, seeing it in daylight. It had a small-town feel, like Mayberry in the new Millennium. It reminded me of Troy, where we had lived.
So, after putting it off as long as we could, we go to get Margaret, and tell her the plan. The gist of it was, there was no way we going to get her and her stuff in the car, with us and our stuff–to say nothing of the trip back to Roseville wherein we would also have Alex and his overnight bag. So my plan was this: I will buy her a bus ticket, if there is a bus leaving from Bay City (our next stop), put her on a bus for St Louis, and on our way back through, pick up her stuff and bring it with us.
She cried a bit–thinking we were going to ditch her (which I contemplated)–but adjusted to the concept. We explained that she would be able to take more of her stuff this way, as opposed to leaving most of it behind. And I was going to feel better–just the 30-40 minute trip from there to Bay City (our next stop) with all of us in the car really stressed me out. And Nigel. Poor fella. That’s alot to haul. But luckily, that was the biggest load, and it was the shortest leg of the trip.
We buy the bus ticket, departure Sunday at 10 am. Then we drive to Detroit’s aunt’s house. Aunt Darlene and Uncle Ted. They were there, as well as Aunt Sharon. These are Detroit’s mom’s sisters. The women were both very nice, personable. Very friendly. Maybe because they had been drinking? They took me right in, that was nice. We got there early in the afternoon, maybe 3? and stayed up till 11 or so, talking. It was nice to meet some people who got me. I think these were the "cool aunts" Detroit has. And I learned more about her family.
Sharon left early, maybe at 8. Sometime after dinner. The next morning, Darlene made us all breakfast, and that was nice. Detroit took her sister to the bus, made sure she got on it, and came back.
We sat and talked some more, and I got to talk to Uncle Ted. He came to America when he was 15, from Poland. I saw his last name–a lot of consonants. This was right after WWII. And–he raises pigeons. To race.
He’s been doing it since 1960. He told me of the history of it, and the current state of affairs, and how racing has improved the breed. It was interesting stuff.
And then it was time to go.
We loaded up, said goodbye, and headed back to Caro, where we got the rest of Margaret’s stuff while Chuck slept. Then we headed to Roseville, and dropped Alex off. We said goodbye, and left. It was later than we wanted to get started, but we made good time.
Margaret was due in at 12:10am, StL time. we rolled in a little after 11, enough time to unpack, mapquest the bus station, and head downtown.
The St Louis Bus terminal is the stuff of legends. This is the thing that lets you know, without a doubt, you am in a dirty, dangerous area. Anything can be had for a price here, and I believe that price is under ten bucks.
Her bus showed up about 1230, twenty minutes late. We scooped her up and got out of there as soon as we could, and went home. Home. To sleep. I have to work both my jobs the next day.
As I drifted off to sleep, finally in my own bed, Detroit by my side, dog under the bed and cat on top, and this strange new person in my house now–I remembered what Detroit said to me somewhere on the trip back home. We were in the car by ourselves, alone at last. Out of nowhere, she speaks.
"I think I’m going to end up owing you big time for this–"