Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Place

Commuter's Corner
Julio Salgado

The water is getting through my slip-on Gap shoes. I don’t necessarily love The Gap, but these shoes only cost me $10. Had I known that The Gap made such crappy shoes, I would have opted for two trash bags instead. I disobey the law at the Artesia station and cross the train tracks before the Metro heading to Downtown Long Beach beats me first. I barely make it to the sliding doors as they’re closing. I hate taking the Metro when is raining. Not because I hate the rain, but because of the obvious inconvenience. Your backpack seems to gain some extra weight and your crappy slip-on Gap shoes fill with water.

I discreetly remove my shoes to try and dry my wet feet with the air. It’s useless so I take out a book and try to fade out the noise behind me.

"Ernesto, stop it already!" a sorta angry, sorta flirtatious female voice behind me screams.

I put my book down and turn my head to try and catch this Ernesto in the act. A young woman wearing a huge men’s jacket and a short skirt is trying to push Ernesto off from her. At first, I wonder if I should come to her rescue. But I can tell that theirs is the kind of love therapists and our mothers warn us about: sick. As Ernesto tries to grab one of her breasts, this woman begins to laugh hysterically. She’s in her early 20s and he’s probably in his late 30s. Her curly brown hair is damp from the rain and it’s sticking to her face.

She looks like the kind of girl who has been waiting for someone to whisk her off from her home, where she was either abused or taken care of. Ernesto has the look of the cholo veterano. Baggy pants with a pair of white Nike Cortezes. I begin to feel like a chismoso so I turn back to my book.

It’s useless. I can’t concentrate because of their constant bickering and loud kisses. I wonder how long they’ve been together and if other Metro riders are wondering the same thing. They don’t look like they’re on drugs. But they sure look like they’ve had a tough life. The young woman’s sad eyes confess the need to be touched. The need to be held. Shit, I want to hug her. He embraces her with the kind of passion you see in the movies.

Despite the cold weather and the rain, the woman is wearing sandals. Maybe they are on drugs after all. They finally get off at Anaheim station. I notice that the man is carrying a sports bag. Probably filled with all of their belongings. I wonder if they’re running away. I remember that there’s a Greyhound station around Long Beach Blvd. but I can’t remember exactly where.
There they are again, arguing over which direction to walk. As the train takes off, the couple becomes smaller and smaller. I secretly wish them good luck and hope that they find the happy place they’re desperately looking for.

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