Sunday, September 12, 2010

BUS STORY # 201 (What Are The Odds II)

Santa Ana Casino Bus , originally uploaded by busboy4.

Jen* and I go back a ways, back before I met my wife, or at least before I was aware of her as a person of interest.

We worked for the same company and knew one another as fellow employees. But we didn’t actually meet until we both ended up being assigned to a task force for what we both knew was a hopeless project. I arrived at the first meeting with a book someone had given me: Craig Martin’s Fly Fishing In Northern New Mexico.

After the meeting, she asked me about the book. I told her I’d been fly fishing for a couple of years or so, loved it, but wasn’t very good at it.

The truth is, I was using it as a great distraction. I’d head out into the wilds of New Mexico every set of days off where I’d camp out and fish or birdwatch or hike or go ghost town hunting. I was licking my wounds from a failed marriage, and all these solitary outdoor pursuits far away from the city were a great comfort to me.

I didn’t explain all this to Jen -- at least, not then. Jen told me she’d also just recently taken up fly fishing and was really enjoying it. The problem, she explained, is that she wanted to try some isolated places up in the mountains north of us. Since the best fishing was early morning and late evening, she’d either have to leave Albuquerque a few hours before dawn, or else camp. She was uneasy about camping out by herself.

I told her I had a truck with a camper shell, and I’d be happy to go camping and fishing with her.

She told me later she was taken aback by my invitation -- we’d be sleeping together in the back of my truck -- and she asked around to see what kind of reputation I had. I guess you could say she was worried my line was more fishy than fishing.

Whatever she heard must have been OK because she took me up on the invitation shortly afterwards. I wish I could remember where we went that first time. But we did our fishing, cooked our supper, slept in the back of the truck in our separate sleeping bags, then got up and fished some more before driving back to Albuquerque. That trip was the basis for many more fishing trips and the beginning of a good friendship.

My favorite of our trips was near the headwaters of the Rio Grande, up in Colorado. We’d gone into Creede to buy whatever the locals were recommending.

“Number 14 House and Lot,” they told us. "Ike swore by the House and Lot." We bought several. Not enough, as it turned out.

We split up and fished Squaw Creek, a series of stair step pools. I’d cast into the pool above me and wham! there was a strike. Whether I set the hook or not, I only got one cast, and that pool was done.

In time, I managed to lose all my H & Ls, and no matter what other fly I tried, I didn’t have another hit for the rest of the day.

I know, I know, I’ve digressed. But you take an old guy reminiscing, a guy whose lineage is Irish, and a fisherman, and you’d be daft to think you’d be getting a short story here. Just be thankful the three of us aren't also drinking the beer. Oh, and the bus is coming.

Long story short, Jen and I became good friends. And when I did start dating my wife, and that relationship began to turn serious, Jen was one of two good women friends whose insights and advice were invaluable to the flourishing of that relationship.

Jen is one very bright woman -- much more so, I know now, than I realized back then. Unfortunately, her potential was lost on the company. So she moved on to bigger and better things. The sad part was she moved out of state.

You can take the very bright woman out of New Mexico, but you can’t take New Mexico out of the very bright woman. (I think Abraham Lincoln said that.) Over time, even while Jen was becoming spectacularly successful in her work, she kept returning to family and a multitude of friends here, and eventually bought a combination investment/retirement/place-to-stay-in-Albuquerque house. And she still makes an annual trip up into southern Colorado and the trout streams there.

Jen and my wife and I get together a couple of times a year and catch up on all the news. It had been several months since the last time we’d seen one another when I left work one Friday afternoon to catch the 50 home.

When I boarded, I was surprised to see there were only two other riders on the bus, two women sitting across from each other and leaning into the aisle. One was giving directions to the other. Both had suitcases which told me they were coming from the airport. I hoisted my backpack up and squeezed between the two and took a seat a few rows back.

When I looked again, it struck me how very much one of the women looked like Jen. And then her voice registered. I sat there staring at her and waited for the two women to finish talking. When they were done, Jen looked back and her right hand shot out and pointed at me. There was a tumbling over suitcases and backpacks and a hug.

We got off at Central and ended up at The Satellite where she told me her story.

“You know, when I was leaving the airport, I thought to myself, you get off work around this time, and it was possible I’d actually run into you.”

It was an incredibly lucky shot. I don’t always work at the main office. I don’t always take the 4:30 bus when I do. I mean, what are the odds?

The last time we’d talked, the three of us had dinner at La Provence. Jen had talked about wanting to avoid renting a car when she was in town. The only time she really needed it was to get back and forth from the airport. She knew I was taking the bus and about the blog, and I told her I thought the bus would work fine -- unless she was leaving on Sunday. (Don’t ask me why none of the three routes servicing the airport run on Sundays. I don’t know.)

Anyway, here she is, and here we are, and what a way to find out she’d decided to give the bus a try!

Really, now, what are the odds?

*Real name changed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long, but a pretty neat story.
I liked it.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, Anonymous BBBH. I confess I may have been a bit indulgent here, but I gave myself a little writing license to go with my fishing license . . .

5:58 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Oh, we have been blessed/cursed with the puntification. But a nice story indeed!

10:12 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks for your kind words, Mike. And I would say "blessed."

8:36 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

From an email from Jen: "Yes, I remember the first fishing trip...I believe it was to Cuba to hike up the Los Pino trail to fish the small streams in San Pedro park."

8:38 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I enjoyed reading something a little different from you! Not to say I'm bored with the bus stories =)

I also wanted to let you know that I changed my blog url to It was time for something new.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks much, Heather. I've already bookmarked your new URL. I appreciate your sharing it. I would have been bummed to find the "Blog not found" message and nowhere to go.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Brenda said...

Your stories are never too long but sometime too far apart! Thanks for sharing.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Brenda, what a nice comment! Thank you.

6:15 AM  

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