There’s always too much space between everything in America. One has to traverse the sidewalk to get to the road and I sat in my Uber on the way to Umar’s I noticed a littering of what a French philosopher would term ‘non spaces’, the places between roads, under bridges in the center of roundabouts, inaccessible by neither people nor cars.
Soon we were on the I-9, a monstrous quadruple lane highway. The Uber driver was telling me how she moved here from Utah to take up a masters in hospitality because she wanted to work in hotels. She was 40 and driving brand new hummer, god knows why. She shook her head at the Honda next to us which seemed to be falling apart simply due to the wind resistance. The driver was a squat Latino man with a pencil mustache who occasionally touched his rosary that hung from his rear view mirror and rubbed his dashboard with a mumbling prayer. I felt like praying as well. Him, her, me; we were all in this together, really, even if only for a few minutes.
Umar is there waiting for me. I get out and we embrace. He seemed so lost for words that I might as well have asked what he thought of Ghandi.
I set my bag down and very quickly he starts firing a string of what I think is English at me. Urdu, and I assume Punjabi, simply has a higher word to minute ratio than English. Perhaps it has less meaningful content per word but Umar doesn’t let up even in English:
“So this is the roommates room don’t worry he’s asleep so we can say anything like haha what a stupid Italian he plays tennis but he’s crap he doesn’t even ask me to play we went to the movies once he didn’t understand anything but it was good bonding time he didn’t want to buy toilet paper but he didn’t know that Muslims don’t care remember freshman year yeah bum kettle amazing name so I just didn’t buy toilet paper and we were down to the last square of toilet paper why would he do that to himself what if he really needed to shit then what?”
“Dude. I don’t know”