Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small Memory in Idaho #4

This was when I was coming back from Mexico. I'd taken the Greyhound Bus up from Nogales, AZ and had told Fru--who was back in Missoula--that'd I'd be home, that the bus would pull in at about nine that night. I'd called her from somewhere on a pay phone, in Tucson, I think. The problem was that I'd been wrong. As the bus traveled northward, I realized the mistake in my calculations, which was off by about, oh, twelve hours. It was nine in THE MORNING when I'd be getting back to Missoula.
It was night time, dark, snow had been falling (this was March in 1990) and finally the bus pulls into this little town of Blackfoot, Idaho. Like a lot of small western towns, the place hadn't changed since maybe the 1950s or 60's: things were old, retro-looking, even the people, even the very air and aura had an antique back-in-time feel to it. So, we had but a short stop in this strange bus station in Blackfoot and I rushed to the pay phone to try and get a hold of Fru to let her know I was wrong (once again in many once agains). There was no Internet emails or cell phone calls or texts in those days--had to use pay phones and maybe a phone card at that phone, but think I used coins (it was even tougher to try and call her when I was in Mexico, where you'd go to theses shops where you paid someone to connect you through--interesting, though)--so I got into this old-fashioned phone booth which were, even in '90, becoming obsolete and called our home number in Missoula.
No answer.
I left a message saying I was sorry, that I'd miscalculated. And that was all I could do.
Turned out she'd gone to the bus station and had waited for me, all dressed up to look nice for me, and the derelicts at the station all ogled her, made her feel uncomfortable (sorry, Fru!), and didn't know why I wasn't on the bus until she got home and listened to my message . . . But I still recall that old station, that rush to the booth inside that crazy place. And outside the night was dark, the mountains stood tall and snow-capped, trees black columns against the black night with the snow falling. It was cold compared to Mexico (as you might expect). It was a sad feeling but also, almost, an Xmasy feeling, like I was coming home for the holiday to my loved one, my beautiful wife, after a long journey away from her (though it was only two weeks or less). There was also some talk that the route would be delayed or canceled because of the snow. And when I got on the bus--we changed buses there in Blackfoot--it wasn't the Greyhound anymore but a local one, Inter-Mountain, I think--but the driver was a good guy, reassured everyone that the roads weren't that bad and we'd be going up into Montana. And there was this old lady sitting across from me and she kept looking at me and the bus driver asked if there was a problem. The lady said she was a afraid of me. And no doubt I looked kind of scary--I'm a big guy and I hadn't shaved, was unwashed and sad about Fru and depressed knowing how much more time I had on the bus (and I'd been on one since mid-Mexico along the Pacific coast for the past two days or so) and I'd just come up from Mexico. And the bus driver looked at me and asked if I was a bad guy and I said, "No. I'm just trying to get home" and he laughed and reassured the women--like reassuring us about the weather--that all was okay.
I don't know.
It was just one of those sad/beautiful moments that we all have, many of which for me seem to happen in Idaho.

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