On the bus ride home

“Sometimes it happens that I throw up a bunny.”

-Julio Cortazar

On the bus ride home

The bus driver let him ride even though he was short of the rush hour rate. People were arm-to-arm standing in the aisle because all of the seats were filled. The 5 Route leaving downtown at this time on Friday was always packed and he mostly preferred the forced closeness of otherwise would-be strangers. There was an inherent intimacy he felt between people having to be so close together due to forces that were for the most part outside of their control. It always reminded him of being in a crowded elevator, except thankfully less claustrophobic. The windows were steaming up and some of them had been opened even though it was below freezing and snowing outside. The cool breeze helped to air out the bus and to relieve the natural body smells of so many people so close together after a long hard week in the city. He of course preferred the windows shut.

As the bus progressively emptied out as it got further from the downtown district, he stayed standing in the hopes of brushing shoulders with someone, or of making that briefest of eye contacts as he would let somebody walk past him or take the seat that he should so clearly be sitting in, reading a magazine or listening to headphones – something natural like that anyway. Instead he just stayed standing there with a slight smile on his face and his hands gently hanging on to the overhead rail or softly leaning against the aisle seat handle with his backpack over one shoulder and his gloves sticking out of his jacket. He always took off his hat and gloves and loosened up his scarf even when there was hardly any room to maneuver, actually especially when there was very little room to maneuver.

He even liked the way he would slightly lose his balance for a split second as the bus took off or suddenly pressed the brakes. He would watch the faces around him to see if anybody caught him so he could share a quick laugh with them. In his mind he was somehow subverting the isolated existence of life in the city, where people have their select group of family and friends, but otherwise live amongst strangers that only sometimes cross paths.

Like I said, he enjoyed riding the bus. His greatest joy on the bus ride home was riding with people that he recognized even though he rarely, if ever, spoke to them. He would fantasize that people fantasized about him, and he sometimes suspected that they did considering the way he always remained standing and smiling. That unspoken bond he felt between that set of strangers was stimulating and he would walk home with a satisfying warmth even in the most brutal days during those northern winters. When he would get back to his basement apartment he would take his time undressing, thinking about the people still on the bus and where and when they would reach their final destination. He imagined that they got home happy too, but he knew better than to let this thought linger. He found comfort in the fact that he didn’t own a car and that he had the opportunity to share a journey home with the likes of some of the most beautiful people that the majority of the city didn’t know existed.

Inspired by The Yellow Flower, A Letter to a Young Lady in Paris by Cortazar and The Road From Colonus by E.M. Forster

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~ by garcialoca on March 21, 2009.

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