Riding the Bus: A Love Story

Fung Wah Bus Van Hool C2045 coach on a stopove...

March 30, 2012, Boston, MA

I sit on the floor, the cold from the rust-colored tile seeping through my pants. There are seats next to me, but I want to try to get a front seat on the bus, so I sit in line. The Chinese bus (Fung Woh) just loaded, so I hear the chatter of Chinese around me. I’m watching people, trying to be subtle about it. I don’t really have to be subtle though, as most people protect themselves with various technological devices. I bet that travelling by bus in the past was friendlier, as people asked questions and discussed the adventure ahead, rather than hiding behind mini screens.

Flashback, A Peter Pan Bus, Sometime in 1990

I remember falling in love, briefly, with a man on a bus. I was taking the bus home from college, either just before or just after I graduated. I got into a discussion with this cute black guy who was heading home from college as well. We talked the whole ride: about our times at schools 20 minutes from each other, about our fears as both of us graduated, about life and dreams and where we were heading from there. My future was still unknown. I can’t recall what his was, maybe moving to New York or something. “I wish we had met earlier,” he said. “Me too.” I surprised myself with that reply as I was perennially shy with guys. He got off the bus before my stop, and we never saw each other again. These were the days before everyone had cell phones, e-mail addresses and Facebook. For people in transition, contact was more challenging. I believe we exchanged phone numbers, but his life was moving forward quickly. A flame for a moment that blew out with a puff of smoke.

March 30, 2012, Boston, MA

Now the line is silent. Nobody speaks, not even the people travelling together. There are a few hushed conversations, and a few less-hushed cell phone conversations. Most of the noise comes from buses beeping, honking, moving, backing up. Nobody really makes eye contact even. I try to look up and be friendly, open–but that is not the norm nowadays. That seems like such a sad loss. The Fung Wah bus backs out and moves away, opening the space for my Megabus to move in. It’s still early though, so there is nothing to do but wait.

Waiting for the bus home in NYC.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mayumi
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 11:59:20

    I don’t quite have words to describe how this made me feel…except that it’s lovely. Your story of a fleeting connection with someone – something that doesn’t happen much, these days, I think (as you say), because of those technological walls we build around ourselves – it’s really beautiful. Sad, too. One of those perfect engagements that you used to see in books and films all of the time. Of course, in those, the strangers meet again. The fact that you never did almost makes it more sweet, though.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 05, 2012 @ 12:01:58

      Thanks, Mayumi. I’m glad it touched you. I kind of like that we never met again, because then the dream remains possibility rather than reality which could turn out to be ugly. Thanks so much for your comment.

      Reply

  2. mj monaghan
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 13:08:19

    I sit on the floor, the cold from the rust-colored tile seeping through my pants.
    A flame for a moment that blew out with a puff of smoke.

    Love this post, Lisa!
    My two favorite lines, above, both are fabulous.
    What a great opening line, first of all.

    And then comparing the two lines:
    The first sentence leaves a distinct feeling of utter-permanence – of the cold totally infiltrating the body, like the loneliness.

    The second sentence, giving the reader complete transience. The flame quickly blown out!

    Very nice, my friend!

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 05, 2012 @ 13:23:38

      Thank you so much, and thank you for the analysis. Sometimes I question my ability to write with images at all, or that my words go beyond the basic meaning. Your words are truly encouraging to me just as I embark on a new chapter in my writing journey.

      Reply

  3. jfb57
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 13:15:28

    Sadly the increased use of technology prevents us from getting closer to our fellow passengers I think.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 05, 2012 @ 13:22:07

      I’m guilty myself. On the bus ride our, the person next to me was Chinese (or Korean, I couldn’t tell for sure) and didn’t seem to speak English, so I listened to NPR on my music player. On the way back, I talked to the student next to me for a short while, but then plugged back in to NPR

      Reply

  4. Kathryn McCullough
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 15:14:20

    This is a wonderful post, Lisa! Beautifully written. Love the title, as well. MJ’s analysis was great. He’s correct. Listen to him, my friend!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  5. Andra Watkins
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 15:58:41

    How would one have this lovely 1990 conversation today? It’s sad, in a way. I don’t ever wear an iPod or anything when walking around outside. It dulls the noises and takes the edge off the whole experience.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 05, 2012 @ 18:33:54

      More and more lately I have found the joy of walking without any music. I used to use it to get my pace up, but I find that I speed walk more to the sound of nature. Plus, I would never have had such an interesting “conversation” yesterday if I had distracted myself.

      Reply

      • Andra Watkins
        Apr 05, 2012 @ 19:49:21

        I have such a tick of writing about sound in my fiction. I think it is another offshoot of theatre. I don’t know how I’d tell a story without describing what it sounded like.

        Reply

  6. Taochild
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 19:29:11

    Once again we resonate to the same rhythm it seems.

    Reply

  7. timkeen40
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 21:02:39

    My Mom told me about a time, decades ago, in a community so small that the way to “phone” someone was to stand in the yard and yell to one another. I am talking about two hundred yards away. Or the other way to “phone” was to just walk the two hundred yards and tell them.

    With every gain, something is lost.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 06, 2012 @ 08:04:14

      You made me think of tin can telephones. It seems like even those have gone away, as people keep themselves in their homes and don’t even really connect with neighbors. Sigh. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

  8. Jodi Aman
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 05:38:33

    That connect on the bus in the 90’s. I had many of those. I often wish for cells and email and Facebook back then, There has been so many people I have sat next to on planes, trains and buses I would love to still be connected with!

    Reply

  9. Heather Henry
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 01:37:08

    fantastic post, Lisa. You really captured the feeling of a society that has become so disconnected physically, yet so connected technologically. I love the opening line, so much feeling in it. Encounters like that are magical and always leave you wondering. I miss the days of actual communication. 😦
    Hope all is well with you!

    Reply

  10. Kathy
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 18:46:04

    Superb writing, Lisa! Love how you shared this…

    Reply

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