Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Marriage Proposal

I started working in downtown Denver about seven years ago and since I live in one of the southern suburbs of Denver, it meant that I would have a commute of about 50 minutes each way. I wasn’t used to that. My last job was only about 15 minutes from my house. The drive to downtown is always very hectic and traffic is usually pretty bad. Also, parking in downtown is sometimes hard to find and expensive. So for the first two years, I took the bus to get to work. There was a Park and Ride about 8 minutes from my house.

Not being a morning person every morning I would get out of bed with a strong sense of doom. This was, also, during the time that I was going through my divorce, so life was hell. I would jump in the shower, always, later than I should, get out, get dressed, grab a couple of pieces of fruit, my lunch and run out the door knowing that if didn’t run the stop sign by my house and didn’t drive like a maniac, I would miss the bus. So I would drive 50 in a 35 mile per hour zone, switch lanes quickly, and finally would stop behind the red light on the street that would turn into the Park and Ride. This was a major road and the Park and Ride was on a minor road, so the red light was very long maybe 3 minutes and the green arrow for turning to the park and ride lasted maybe two seconds. So 9 out of 10 times I would be stuck behind the light and miss my bus. Soon, I learned that instead of waiting behind that red turn light for three minutes, I could drive straight through and get to the next place where the bus would stop. It was another five minutes of driving. So I started to drive to the second bus stop to catch my bus. Since I always left the house late, at times I would miss the bus at the second bus stop too. In those situations, I would drive to the third stop and catch the bus from there. All this driving was done very fast with a lot of lane changing, trying to make sure that my bus didn’t beat me to the next stop. And I was always looking out for cops. There were times that I would miss the bus at the third stop too. On those days, I would drive very close to downtown, park my car in a residential area and then take the bus number “0". This way I wouldn’t have to pay for parking in the downtown area. I know this all sounds crazy, but a day in the life of Soheila can be pretty nutty.

There are two buses that go through downtown Denver. One is bus number “0” that goes north and south and the other is the bus that goes east and west on Colfax Street. Each bus has its own type of people. They can be kind of scary at times. The Colfax bus, I have never been on, but I have heard that a lot of prostitutes and transvestites take that bus. Apparently, there is a lot of prostitution on east Colfax Street. The people who take bus number “0” are a diverse bunch. There are a lot of homeless people who haven’t bathe in ages who take this bus. It gets them to the homeless shelters north of downtown. And, also, there are a lot of people with mental illness who frequent this bus. I have seen a lot of people who are totally delusional and talk to themselves or insist on talking to others. And a couple of times I saw men who wore women's clothes get on the bus all made up with high heels, finger nail polish, fake nails and all. So it can be entertaining at times. This bus would take me to the vicinity of my building right in downtown.

On one of the days that I took the number “0” bus, a man in his late thirties got on the bus. He was of medium height and build with blonde hair and blue eyes. He sat directly across from me. I noticed that the guy kept looking at me. I tried not to make eye contact with him. After a few minutes of him staring at me, I started to feel kind of uncomfortable. While trying to avoid his eyes, I, accidentally, made eye contact with him. Right at that moment, in a very loud voice and a serious expression on his face, he said, “Will you marry me?” Everyone on the bus looked at him and me, waiting to see how I would react. I looked at him and said, “I can’t. I’m already married.” Technically that was true. I was separated. I thought there was innocence and simplicity in his question. He had a thought and he, freely, expressed it like a child without wondering about the place, people and the fact that I did not know him. It was a clear expression of desire by someone who was not socially apt or had some mental issues. After my response, I looked away and tried to ignore him, but he wanted to talk to me. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. I didn’t want to talk to him and give him the impression that I may be interested in him in any way, but he kept on talking. I tried not to engage in a conversation with him without being rude. I shook my head in agreement a couple of times as he talked. He said that he had just been released from prison. That alarmed me. He continued to say that after his release from prison, he found out that his wife had left him for another man. Then he said, “I found her and I took care of her.” I was scared at that point. I was dying to know what he meant by that, but didn’t want to ask. He kept repeating the sentence “I took care of her.” I was thinking I hope he won’t get off the bus where I’m going to get off. Soon, I got to my stop. I, quickly, jumped out of the bus and walked very fast toward my building. After a minute, I looked back to see if he had followed me, but I didn’t see him. I was relieved.

About six months later, one morning in downtown when I was standing behind a red light waiting to cross a street, I saw him on the other side of the street, also, waiting to cross. I recognized him immediately. The light turned green. We both proceeded to cross the street from opposite directions. In the middle of the street, as we were passing each other, he looked at me and said, “Hi gorgeous”. We both continued to walk. That was the last time I saw him.