There are two men standing at the intersection of St. Francis and Cerrillos. One man has darker skin, is perhaps Native American or Latino; he holds a beer bottle in his hand and is talking to a white man in his sixties while holding a sign raised to oncoming drivers. “BUSH’S WAR IN IRAQ IS A SHAME FOR THE US.” I give him the thumbs up as I walk towards the drug store; he flashes me the peace sign. I ask him how often they gather at this intersection: he says every Friday from noon to one and that I should join them.At the bus stop there is a South Asian man on the bench, reading the liner notes for a CD he has just purchased. While waiting for the bus, we begin to talk. “Unless you have friends here,” he says, “it is death.” He says there are only thirty Indian families in Santa Fe. He is a lab technician and processes test results at a local hospital but wants to study nursing, and because he has applied for a job in Sacramento, he wants to know more about the Bay Area. We board the bus together, with the understanding that we will continue the conversation until one of us has to get off. He tells me that there are many gay people in downtown Santa Fe; his manner reveals nothing when he tells me this, but because he tells me, I am led to believe that he thinks it important, but in what way I don’t know. After he pulls the chord to signal the bus driver, he shakes my hand and says it was a pleasure to meet me. I watch him walk away from the bus, cross the gas station on the corner, his CD and the bus schedule in one hand.
Before I returned to California, a man in a low-riding American car solicited me on Cerrillos. I was walking from the video store towards the intersection where I could cross and cut back to campus across the parking lot, when he emerged from a side street. As I crossed behind his car, he asked me something but I couldn’t hear and kept walking. Then he leaned out across the passenger seat and I heard him ask me if I wanted a ride. He gave me the thumbs up. A man was walking behind me when this happened; he said something to me that I also couldn’t make out, then shook his head.