Kansas City -- August 1, 2007

The lockers at the Greyhound Station were either all filled up or didn’t work and the package express counter, where they store bags as a last resort, wouldn’t take mine without a claim check on it. The line to the ticket counter to get a claim check was twenty deep, I decided to carry my pack.

Across the street from the bus station I passed an old man surrounded by shopping bags, standing in the shade of a tree. He had bandages on his face who was brushing his teeth. I nodded his direction and after he spit out his toothpaste, he asked me if I was looking for the library. How he knew that I was -- the library is always my frist destination -- I could only guess. Maybe, with my pack I looked homeless and like I needed a good public place to do my washing up. Go down the street, he explained and spit again before continuing, until it dead ends and then take a right.

I did pass a homeless center on the way down, so that canceled out the "library as a homeless shelter" idea. I think I looked presentable. I might have looked tired. All night long I'd been sitting next to a crying child who, during the course of the night, wet his bus seat. I tried to comfort him. His mother was across the aisle with an infant. It wasn't until almost morning that I discovered, irate at his aloofness, that the boy's father was also sitting on the bus, ignoring everything.

After visiting the library I went to the Main and 10th Street bus stop, where I could catch a bus from the Missouri side to the Kansas side of the city (thereby accomplishing two states in one city!!). A middle-aged black man -- Fred -- a man with guardian angel qualities, took care of me. He was there all day in my coming and going. First time we met he told me what bus to take to the Kansas side and then later, when I returned to the Missouri side, what streets it was safe to walk between...and when to hustle over to Walgreens before they closed. If you get on line, thanks Fred!

People told me no today: A Black woman and a Hispanic woman. The more different people are from you, racially, or how you dress, or how you talk, the more likely they’ll say no. But, then again, white women my age tell me no all the time, too, and my guardian angel couldn't have been less like me.

At the terminal: No one reading on the way out, but I did see a Harry Potter tucked in the handle of someone’s suitcase. Everyone was watching TV--a sword fighting drama.

“You’re half way through!” one of the ladies at the Kansas City, Kansas library said to me, pointing out that early in the morning I must have passed by Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the continental United States.

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