It is when staring off into space that I feel most connected with myself. On the bus, I do this. It is as if my mind is thinking on another dimension, and in the moment that I slow down and just sit and listen to myself, I realize how focused I have been on the physical reality of the world. It is easy to ignore thoughts– but never the emotional ripples (sadness, yearning, nostalgia, hope)– in the grinding pace of daily schedules. Perhaps ignore implies too much control (should/could be misplace, forget, disregard, instead?).
These are the tenses that define us now: past tense, back then; future tense, not yet. We live in the small window between them, the space we’ve only recently come to think of as still, and really it’s no smaller than anyone else’s window. (Atwood, Moral Disorder)
Buses mean a lot to me. It’s been constant (the lines always run along the same streets, minus a few detours here and there). When I snap back to reality, I realize that I’ve been staring at a row of grey, plastic loops that thousands of people hold onto throughout the week. Each of those people in their own worlds, holding on until they let go and ring or buzz the bell and leave and touch the next thing. It is that connection that I love about bus systems, in all the cities I’ve been to, but especially my Vancouver; That people sit in a seat that another person has sat, with a completely different story (or eerily similar, as chance often humours so). That people from all different cultures and countries and personal backgrounds are on one bus, each going to a similar destination (same bus line, after all), yet lead such different lives based on tiny nuances.; That busses pass through so many different neighbourhoods, shaped differently by History (and continuously so by different stories); That so many personalities come together on a bus, reacting and acting according to how they have done so in their past, now reflecting and demonstrating to everyone else what ‘normal’ should be, or not; That commuters form a little society of their own, representative of the greater society.
And I snap out of that moment, of relishing all the things I appreciate about being part of a city in the bloodstream system called Translink, and I start compulsively checking my Blackberry, changing my songs on my iPod every few minutes, texting, reading, checking Facebook, and it’s back to living in the ‘now’, as if I zoomed back into my (irrelevant, small, egotistical, shallow, little) world and that holistic moment of appreciation and feeling of membership (or city-zenship, pun intended) passes.
[I got off the bus, and]
…[t]he sun is piercing through the pouring drizzle of rain. Not pouring rain, not drizzling rain. A downpour of floating drizzles of rain. These sun’s rays reflect off the fiery leaves of the trees along the street. Today has been characteristic of Vancouver autumn: waking up to a warm cocoon (my bedsheets unconsciously, increasingly more wrapped around me throughout the night), fighting the urge to stay in bed all day, grabbing a quick coffee in my to-go cup (Vancouver is a green city), speed walking to the bus stop in the morning rain… fast forward to the chilly afternoon, the downpour of rain (I resolved to baking cookies and making myself a cup of tea by this point in my day), and finally the piercing rays of sun to wish us goodbye and a happy dreary next five months. In the time it took me to write this paragraph, the sun has disappeared behind more rain clouds.
What madness is, a seemingly random collection of objects and places we see in our daily city lives, represents our familiarity with a place that we recognize as home. Landmarks, to an extent, are only really recognized by those who live within that place. We see the same park and bus benches, new and abandoned bus stops, buildings and street lamps, littered throughout the city (/who doesn’t sigh with relief while confirming that the bus stop bench at Third/ and Arbutus is still there… [Harris, The town is so damned rational]); these objects intersect the lives of Vancouverites. (Chiang, 2011)
“Without familiarity, your rational town becomes less so. In contrast/complement, without familiarity, outsiders seek rationality but only find the irrational.” (Duffy, 2011)