Learning to Ride the Bus

The loft of the dance studio was filled with props, parts and tools. A box of stakes. A box of wood wedges. A collection of theatrical facades made from Styrofoam to look like rows of rocks. I stood halfway up the makeshift stairs to hand it all down, piece by piece, to another parent of a kid of the school

They will use it to make a float for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The kids will dance on a flat truck bed that’s decorated with fake rocks. They’ll staple a skirt to it and put up a short fence to prevent kids from falling off.

I’d agreed to come and help get stuff down from the loft but there weren’t a lot of people there when somebody said, “So when do we need to get this thing ready in time for the parade?” The answer was Saturday at 6 a.m. in Balboa Park. Shit! I didn’t think I’d volunteered for that.

But I’ll be there with my drill, box of screws and a staple gun.

Wisteria blooms in Maech.

Wisteria blooms in March.

Her ears are soft and red and they hurt when we tried to put her new earrings back in. My 8-year-old girl wants to get big and getting her ears pierced is part of the deal. I’ve watched her sleep while she wore her first ones, cut-glass studs that are supposed to look like diamonds. But we didn’t leave the new ones in last night. She got back from another trip to the piercing parlor and I heard she would have to wear earrings to bed for two years to keep the holes from closing up.

It takes some commitment to become a big girl with pierced ears.

The wisteria in front my house has become a hillside of purple flowers. It’s that time of year. Rains come in winter. Trees blossom and bees descend on them to lend a humming noise. Rainy season will end soon and I pray for more. I was bred in a place where rain-fed crops are the stuff of survival. But in the Southwest water generally comes from pipes, not the sky.

Meanwhile I teach my kids to take the bus. They need to start taking it home from school, and it will just take a little practice. The first time Sophie couldn’t get the hang of feeding a dollar into the bill wringer. She then tried to stuff five quarters into the coin slot all at once and they got stuck.

The second time I reminded her of that and it made her sulk at the bus stop, crouched against the wall of a shop as she hid her face in her hands. But she did better putting the money in that time. I tell them they have to grow up and become more independent. The city isn’t so scary as long as you know where you’re going and have a cell phone. We’re still working on that second thing.

The bus winds down a hill into a canyon and uphill to the place where (I tell them) they have to pull the cord to request a stop. It’s just a ten-minute walk home, where the wisteria blossoms and I can still watch them fall asleep at night.

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