The Slow Bus to Somewhere

I gave up taking the subway for Lent.

Okay, not really. But on a whim last week, I skipped the long, scary escalator descent into the underground and got on a bus I had no clue would get me anywhere close to work. I roughly knew the route, but not every twist and turn, not every block.

The first day I took this bus, I got spooked midway through the route and hopped off at a very familiar corner. I stood there like an idiot for a few minutes, wondering why I was so easily thrown by the unknown, and decided to walk the rest of the long way to my restaurant. I bypassed both the train and the bus on the return trip and walked home later that evening to atone for being afraid of the unknown.

The next day, I made a conscious decision to leave home earlier in order to take the bus–and I told myself I had to go much further along the route, just to see where it went. When three buses pulled up to my stop all at once, all with different route numbers, but all apparently going the same way, I picked the third and least crowded one and took a window seat.

It was still so cold outside, but the sun shone warm through the glass. I leaned my head against the window and closed my eyes, pretending for just a moment that the warmth was for real and that I was nowhere near my city.

When you close your eyes on a bus and the sun is shining through the window, you can pretend to be on a beach, soaking up that sun. When you close your eyes on a bus and lean your head against the window, others avoid sitting next to you, which allows you to pretend for a little while longer that you are on a beach. When you close your eyes on a bus and lean your head against a window, you can let your mind wander and wander.

I wandered back to a time 18-plus-months ago, when I didn’t know a cover from a four-top, and I wondered in that wandering how so much had transpired in the intervening time between then and now. How was it that I am where I am now? How was it that I had traveled so far in so short a time? I am thankful for this, if not still a little shell shocked.

I wandered to my imaginary perfect job in the perfect-sized restaurant, where it is possible to work the floor and interact with always-smiling guests every shift, where I plan and never double book the special events for these smiling guests, where I am always the golden girl in the eyes of every manager of every shift. You have to smile at that one. I did, with my eyes closed.

I wandered back and forth to crazy, funny times with former coworkers from my first restaurant–some of whom were such good friends back then–none of whom I see anymore. And I wondered in that wandering how each of these friends is faring, and if all is well. Do they remember me and think of me, as fondly and as affectionately as I remember them? If I could, I would hug each and every one of them and tell them, “I miss you.”

When you close your eyes on a bus and the sun is shining through the window, you can wander far, and then you feel a tiny sliver of peace.

I will ride this bus again tomorrow, and the next day, and eventually I will figure out the closest stop to work. Until then, I am beginning to like this slow ride above ground, no matter how long it takes.






9 responses to “The Slow Bus to Somewhere”

  1. Aaron DeLay Avatar

    Bus riding in Denver can be a little weird. Odd balls and crazy people sometimes ride our bus system. I haven’t tried it yet….but with this post I just might venture out and try…:)

  2. Ceetar Avatar

    I’ve never been a big fan of buses myself. I learned a bunch of them to get to the airport and greyhound station in Buffalo, but I still hated them. Subway every time for me.

  3. Bigger Hugs Avatar

    ((HUGS)) to you Restaurant Gal

  4. jali Avatar

    Really sweet post. Great attitude to use your time on the bus as an opportunity to dream.

  5. Thija Avatar

    I wouldn’t call it “easily thrown by the unknown” if you can relax so nicely on an unfamiliar bus route and lose yourself in such reverie and reflection.
    It made me worry that you might have missed the area of your restaurant in the end.

    So now I’m relieved that you didn’t and glad that you described the quiet part of your day so beautifully.

  6. Carole Avatar

    I have read previous posts, coming over here from Kim Ayers blog, reading his guest post, and then nosing about a bit in your business. Your writing cuts to the heart, and summons feelings, ideas, and thoughts out of the shadows of my mind. I may not ride the bus tonight, but I think I shall wander back to friends lost to moves, busyness, and time. Perhaps I will give them a call and let them know I miss them.

  7. Induced Homomorphism Avatar

    I don’t drive, and so I’m always using public transportation. I’m not sure if you live in New York City or not, but if you do, I couldn’t imagine taking the bus over the subway. I lived in NYC for three years, and as wonderful as the transportation system is there compared to anywhere else, the funny thing is that the buses seem to be the least efficient buses I’ve ever seen in my life. They generally travel one block per minute, and it’s generally faster to walk.

    Either way, I hope you’re enjoying your explorations. I’ve been reading your blog on and off, and I love to hear about where life is taking you.

  8. Kim Ayres Avatar

    I’ve been in a kind of wistful, nostalgic mood today and your post echos that perfectly. Thanks

  9. Julie Avatar

    Ah… Riding the bus… I think I lived in the one part of Brooklyn that didn’t have any subways. So, it was always the slow bus to the train. Sometimes you’d wait for nearly an hour, and when one would finally appear another would be right behind it. It drove me crazy. Waiting for the bus and the ride to the train station took longer than the subway to anywhere in Manhattan. I don’t miss riding the bus at all.