Jo doesn’t know why she is on this bus with stained seats and the dull scent of Mexican food. She watches bright colored umbrellas blur into a rainbow as they pass by. There are tall palm trees planted in the middle of wide sidewalks. A woman wearing a floppy beach hat walks a large dog rather close to the busy street; seemingly unaware of the commotion that surrounds her.
From the seat behind Jo, the quick chatter of two men prods her ears like Spanish waves. How she wishes she could make meaning of the words. Her mouth wrinkles into a grimace as she concentrates on the sounds, trying to pull from any memories of those two months she had listened to Spanish lesson cassette tapes on the way to work. That was before the “family bike ride” inspiration, but after she had spiced up the yard by painting stone skunks to place by the porch and making wind chimes.
“Feliz!” She finally picks out a word. That meant “happy” right? Well, of course it did. Feliz Navidad. She hums the tune to herself to confirm her idea. So were these men happy or just talking about someone who was happy? She glances back at them. They don’t look very happy. Maybe they are just busy, lost in their own lives.
She had told her husband she had lost herself. He had been reclined in front of his new television like he was every night, wearing nothing but plaid red and white boxers. He looked over at her, as if surprised to find her in the room. He muted the television and the quiet made the house seem utterly empty.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I mean I don’t know who I am anymore. All I do is work at I job I hate. I’m not happy.”
“Quit your job. Do whatever makes you feel better.”
As if it were that easy. As if they didn’t need the money.
He had already turned his attention back to the TV.