We arrived in Oklahoma on April 1st, April Fools’ Day. Dad had committed to going back to work in California that first summer and sometime in July we followed by bus for a visit.
I don’t remember much about the bus ride, other than thinking that the driver looked really cool in his uniform; that there was an English guy with B.O. who tried to teach me how to play backgammon; that we stopped in Flagstaff during a torrential thunderstorm; that one night a car went off the road and then flipped right in front of the bus; and the layover at the Los Angeles bus terminal.
The L.A. bus terminal was, and I’m sure still is, a huge shit hole. I remember being fascinated by the little coin operated TVs, the vending machines full of sandwiches and slices of pie, and the dirty desperation of the whole place.
We were stuck there for several hours and at one point I had to pee really bad. Mom didn’t want to let me go in the bathroom by myself, but, at ten, I was a little big to be taken into the women’s restroom. I remember the restroom was filthy, full of men not using the facilities, and I remember my mom standing just outside the door with Kelli until I was done.
After that I guess she decided the neighborhood surrounding the bus station had to be safer so we went outside and walked around for a while. The bus station was in a Hispanic neighborhood and the sidewalks were full of people. We stopped in a little Mexican bakery that smelled of yeast, sugar, and caramel and bought some pan dulce and ate it on the sidewalk. I had never seen pan dulce before and was amazed by the pastel colors and the lightly sweet taste of the bread.
Later that night as the bus rolled through Hollywood I looked for movie stars but saw only poor people.
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