September 01, 2005

4am

About 4.15am I snuggled into bed. I was in London all day with Lisa and Jenn, a good day spent - great American friends in this foreign England, British Museum, Portobello market street, and a pub lunch. A good day. Couldn't bring myself to leave at the end of the evening - so very wisely decided - Jenn and I thought good talks in the pub with a pint was the way to go instead! Enjoyed that a lot - especially talking and listening - and just to add - I love you Jenn! Anyhow tierd feet later Jenn left me at the bus station close to midnight and I went to sort out my ticket. I couldn't really believe the state of things there at midnight. There was a couple who were truely down and out. The lady sang with a bottle in hand. Another older lady in a long coat was like a bag lady - although she was holding a big droopy scruffy cuddly toy instead of bags. There were one or two African people trying to get to Manchester even though it was a Birmingham bus. An old eastern European man with only one eye and his shoes taped up with selotape was trying to get on the bus with an out of date ticket. I had a ticket that was for a few hours earlier and was told that if I paid £2 it would be okay to get on. The flustered bus conducter didn't think so! In the end he said I could get on if I bought a new ticket - so that was all I could do. I went to the cash line and it was out of order, I returned to the bus and saw it drive away without me - and thought - that man didn't really want to help me...

There was another bus an hour later - but it was dark now and so edgy out there. The station was all closed up, and people sure did seem strange and outside of security. Life is not simple nor is it comforting, although these warm things do exist and bless us often. A man asked me for the time and thought I was stupid when I told him that the time was written on the tv screens in the station. I wondered out on to the street and a big guy with red hair and beard asked if he could help me. I said no, I would sort things out myself and walked away. He stayed around and asked me again - so I asked if he knew anything about trains or buses. He said no - but went and phoned national rail enquiries - and I thought he might be being genuinely helpful - but still sensibly wary about this strange man. He walked me half way to the cashline so I could get money for the next bus - he stood there making sure I was safe. We sat down on the cement leaning against the wall of the bus station and waited and talked for 40 minutes until 1am. We spoke of life, of God, travels and cities lived in, of family and of a garden allotment where his late grandfather used to plant rasberries and sweet peas. He brought a lightness to the dark.

On the bus at that early hour there was a man with crutches, poorer looking African immigrants and at the back a lady who opened can after can of beer until we reached Coventry and she wobbled off the bus into the humid dark blue night. I felt lostness as I felt the lostness of others - that feeling of being unfound as I heard a friend once say :) But on the bus rattled down the motorway and eventually the brakes skidded at Birmingham coach station and I feeling in the twilight zone wondered how to get a taxi to get home. I went into the waiting room. It was 3.30 in the morning and it was full and musty - again Africans and people waylaid and one or two people crashed out who looked like homeless drug addicts finding a warm place to shelter for the small hours. I phoned a taxi that never showed up - so half an hour later went outside and asked the taxi driver who was parked there if I could take his cab - he said I needed to phone and book. I tried the one after him and he asked me where I was going, then asked the people behind me where they were going - as they were going further he motioned for them to jump in. I was so upset that people did not have a heart of help. A nice young taxi driver pulled up and took me home, again we talked all the drive there. At 4.15am I opened the door, climbed the stairs and snuggled into bed.

2 comments:

Allowishus Bramble III said...

Taxis can be so unreliable. But I've found, as it seems you have, that when plans go wrong they can often be the gateway into unexpected blessings. Conversation, the kindliness of strangers, a greater appreciation for home. Good night.

allan said...

Beth, I loved this post. I loved the details of how you saw the world around you. Awesome. Glad you made it home.