Two Hours in Sun City
David Lynch could’ve not done it better himself. Two hours in Sun City and the weather has gone from blinding skin burning sunshine to a sky full of thunder clouds and sporadic outbursts of rain. Thunder rumbles to the south. Indeed the world’s a little darker, and a little stranger. Sun City has many identities. It is a place frozen in time. It’s a place for the elderly. It’s a place for the poor. I am accidentally here waiting for a bus.
Physically, Sun City looks like a wasteland. Especially in the summertime the hills look dead. Brownish yellow hills envelop the valley of inexpensive stucco tract homes and doublewides which make up the Sun City. Most of the town hasn’t been updated since I assume the 1970’s. Many of the homes have rock lawns. It’s far too hot and far too much work to maintain anything living. The bike lane also has symbols indicating this is too a golf cart lane.
I arrive in time for bus 1. There’s only a dollar in my wallet and the bus driver does not sympathize with my sweat drenched self. It’s over 100. I go to get cash back and enjoy a scoop of thrifty ice cream. An old lady likes my hat. It smells like old people in there. I sit outside and lap up my scoop. It’s my second flavor selection. They were out of vanilla. I think this is a lie.
When I show up to a bus stop there’s a man with a cruiser. Everyone waiting for the bus looks upset. There’s a wad of bloodied gauze on the grass. Bus 2 has a bike on the rack.
I go to wait in the library. A little elderly lady with a bandage on her face asks me if it’s raining. I told her it wasn’t when I was outside. She then tells me everything she must do in the day. I stop listening but keep intently staring at her bandage and nodding until she’s done. Is this what life comes to? Those around us are obviously not content with the conversation and passively aggressively clear their throat. The couple sitting across from me are wearing matching American flag t-shirts. A man comes over and said the library is closing in two minutes. I start sketching the feet of the female in the couple. She is wearing sandals with socks. Now that I think about it the other lady was wearing sandals with socks too. A conspiracy? I pack away my sketch pad.
“You look like you’re going camping.” The male in the American flag was commenting on all the bags I had. I always have a lot of bags. I tell him I’m taking the bus to Orange County for the weekend. He’s wearing an I <;3 Jesus lanyard. The library worker comes over to say the library is closed. It’s 3 PM. I try to leave, but he continues to talk about Pio Pico. I don’t mind. I don’t think they get out much. The woman’s question catches me off guard.
“Are you a Christian?”
How could I answer without getting a lecture or be rude? I have a flashback to my childhood when I dealt with this question whether it be at school or at a friend’s house. I would often pretend i was Christian and sometimes even go to church with friends. It always felt odd. I am older now.
“I am spiritual. I believe there is something greater, but try to enjoy my life now.”
I guess it was a good answer because there wasn’t any uncomfortable conversation about salvation that followed. Instead they told me about a show called supernatural encounters that they enjoyed (“it’s stuff you wouldn’t believe unless you are a Christian”), about the pending end times (“nothing bad is going to happen in America. It’s all in the Middle East”), and capped it off with a Bible passage I should read in the King James version. I told him to be safe. The sky was black and thunder claps were sounding off in the distance. I head over to subway to fill my water bottle and take a moment.
Grizzly adams, two women and I are at the bus stop. I wonder which bus Grizzly is waiting for. He starts throwing some kind of liquid into the trash. The air is hot and thick. The smell of wet asphalt is strong. Grizzly disappears. The two woman board another bus. I am alone in the storm for a second.
Emotionally I entered a time machine today. Every summer there’d be at least one day a windy thunderstorm would kick in. There was the day I didn’t go to Rachel’s house because I was scared of dying in the storm and the day my mom had to pick a friend and I up from her house when the power went out after watching ‘The Exorcist.’. Although I have overcome most of my fear of death, Sun City reminds me I’m afraid of getting old along with all the social trappings of getting old in America. Even when I try to shun the conventions and typical views of aging, Sun City is there to throw me back into the loop.
Yesterday I returned to where I started, the bus shelter off of Cherry Hills and Bradley. Grizzly Adams was sitting there in the grass. I had a bag of snacks I did not want to eat anymore, a spontaneous purchase of sea salt popcorn and zesty salsa pita crisps. They served me well as my bus home broke down and the trip home took longer than I had ever imagined. Having not spoken in hours my voice cracked when I started to say “excuse me.” The snacks may be of use to me. Plus I was curious to see what his story was, why is he in Sun City? Grizzly continued to read his book and gave me no attention.
I assumed he was crazy.
As I push my bike away, I hear Grizzly say hello to another dude on a bicycle. He isn’t crazy. He just didn’t want me or my charity in his world. My ego is bruised. It was a weekend of ego bruising.
Do no harm.