Forgotten Beginnings

The street is empty and I'm early. I’m never early. Exhausted and wrinkled, I’m perched on the curb in front of the bus stop, a bag full of slightly used pens and notebooks hangs from my shoulder. The bag isn’t mine, but borrowed from a friend. The sun is bright, but not warm, and I realize how thin my thrift store jacket is, a blue polyester mess with wide lapels and white stitching along the trim. On the corner, a building looms over the intersection, vacant and scarred, but holding strong against the time
pushing back at it. A rotating sign sits on the top, unmoving, selling nothing. I am alone, except for the school of pigeons flying in and out of the broken windows of the hotel across the street. Piles of leaves and trash pool around the face of the hotel.

I turn and make my way to school, finding the science building. I am convinced I’m going to be a dentist or research scientist, but I spend all my spare time listening to music, writing stories no one reads and wishing I had film for my camera. In the lobby, a display case with a Jacob’s Ladder inside waits behind layers of dust. I press my face to the glass, pushing a button over and over again, watching the electricity climb up and arc into oblivion. Across from me a student sits in a wooden phone booth filled with pale yellow light. A small fan hums noisily inside the booth, masking his words with an electric din. I wish I could take all the hum and static and electricity and drink it, wake myself up.

Class starts with a barrage of numbers on a wall of chalkboards hung three deep. Equations and answers and dust fill the air, but the numbers don’t fill my notebook. On that paper, I’m still at the bus stop, in the shadow of forgotten buildings, writing stories of being lost in my own life in San Jose.