thoughts from the passenger van

He’s in the front row of the passenger van making a fake music video with his friends. Earlier I told him I liked his poetry and he smiled at me – but still I find myself in the middle row seat, alone.

The guy who wears a beret over his dreads made us pull over while we were driving a few days ago. He got so high on something that he had the driver stop the van so he could crack the door open and puke. He apologized to me as he retreated to the back row of seats – he lives back there, sleeping as much as he can as we travel from city to city, from stop to stop.

With Apple earbuds in my ears, I’m listening to another boy’s music. There are so many men I’m in love with – maybe one or two remember that I exist.

You wouldn’t believe how kind he is until you experienced it for yourself – I’m talking about the man in the van. He likes sea creatures and he refuses to kill spiders. He’s different.

The only thing wrong with him is that he’s even whiter than I am – and he smokes weed. But it seems like everyone from where he’s from smokes weed, so I don’t know.

I can remember how I met him – how his group of friends chose me out of the rest of the crowd of strangers to take the picture because I was a girl, and girls are less likely to steal iPhones. I remember how it took longer than they thought it would to get everyone together, and how he kept looking at me, making sure I was still there, still had the iPhone. That was the first time I ever held one. That was the first time a stranger had ever asked me to take their picture.

No, that’s not true. It happened for the first time a few weeks before that, when I was in California. I was sitting on the beach with my friend and this lady asked me if I could take a picture of her and the guy she was with. I had asked where they were from, and they had said Germany or some other European country –  I forget where exactly. I wish I remembered that. She said they were on their honeymoon. I wonder if they framed any of the pictures I took. I wonder if they’re still married.

The song ends and my iPod shuffles to the next one – a slow, sad song. I turn it off and tuck the music player away in a pocket of my bag. The girl in the passenger seat of the van is laughing and singing along to the radio. I don’t know her very well. Two days ago she was having boyfriend issues, and asked me for advice. I’m pretty good at giving advice even though I’ve never had much experience with anything.

We’re approaching our exit, now. Almost there. The driver presses on the brake and something hits the back of my foot. I look down and it’s the cup that he got earlier from the smoothie place – I’m still talking about the man in the van. The inside has some kind of orange vegetable pulp clinging to it. I gently pick it up off the dirty floor and place it on the seat beside me.

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