Last night I decided to switch things up (save money) on the last leg of my extreme commute. I took the RIPTA bus from T.F. Greene to the downtown bus station, and then another bus the rest of the way home. RIPTA uses a google map for its trip planner and the whole system is hopelessly fucked up, and inevitably shows that your trip will take several hours and require multiple transfers. While the trip planner said I would have to walk 1.9 miles from the airport to pick up the bus, the bus stop is actually at the arrivals curb. Easy!
B always says she loves that trip on the bus. The bus is dim with muted sound and the dark streets unfold. The meat markets, and gas stations, and Liberian churches, and pho shops all blend together and every intersection feels both anonymous and vaguely familiar. A few minutes in we were stopped by the flashing lights of a dozen vehicles, fire trucks and police cars. As we detoured into a dark neighborhood, the smell of smoke became overwhelming, the driver got off the bus, and all the lights went out. It was a cozily apocalyptic Providence moment. Eventually on our way, we swayed and bumped back into the city.
Downtown Providence has a central bus plaza, which functions pretty efficiently and is generally more pleasant than being the only person at some random stop waiting for a transfer. However, even in a little city, the bus station at night gets a circle of hell vibe hosting overtired children, the lost and confused, and people trying to wedge their immense bundles into tiny bus aisles. In front of me, there was a youngish white couple, who looked like they were living hard, anxious to get to their destination and find some form of consolation, with him gently stroking her face and murmuring nothing.
On my way out of Baltimore, I'd passed a skinny white junkie, and no other word came to mind when I saw her, lying on the sidewalk in fetal position, clasping something and keening nonsense and the growing crowd around her negotiated, discussed, and debated her. I walked on.
An hour after I got on the bus, I was off in front of the pawn shop and just a few minutes walk from the cozy house.