Friday, November 18, 2011

Bus Ride

I have just been on a long bus ride.
I rode one way by day and one way by night.
Part of me had been looking forward to it, the reward being friends waiting on the other side. The other part of me is travel weary, and even one travel bag is too much for me. I am earth bound these days, and my footsteps are heavy.

I had a couple of good thick books for company , and a bottle of water. As it turned out I had a television as well, relentlessly turning out Morality Plays, like in the Middle Ages. I  tried to zone out and read, or look out the window, but television is intrusive by nature and penetrated my consciousness. And so I watched segments from my seat.
I was tempted to tell the girl in front of me that I am not, because she might not have been aware of the fact, a double amputee. I still have both my legs and they are extra long ones. I sighed instead and groaned, I think, but she still lay back in her seat,  as far as she could, leaving me in a perfect position to see the mousy brown roots of her auburn hair. I could have rested my book on her middle parting, and, in fact, it was difficult not to.

I was the only person reading on the entire bus. Books have definitely gone out of fashion. Cell phones are  in, and with a little or a big screen, they provided enthralling reading and general entertainment for everyone around me, for the six hour duration of my trip.
I felt completely put out.
My reading material didn't help I suppose.
It dealt with Womans' Troubles, and I did try to get excited about  the virtues of 'the Dark Goddess', the reclaiming of the 'Crone' and the 'Wild Woman Within', but it was hard. The moral tone of the films being shown, just added further to my feelings of conflict.
The story on the screen of Jesus, as a waiter in some diner on an American back road, in the middle of a hurricane, didn't help in any way either. There He was, Jesus, doling out toasted sandwiches and advice on how to avoid Hell, all with a beautific smile, and an apron.
No,it didn't help, not in any way at all.

I was traveling my own highway towards my 49th birthday, due to be celebrated in two days time, and the countryside (I have traveled that road too many times) somehow held no interest for me. Change  was blowing through me, and  I was restless, trapped between a reclining seat and a television set.

A young boy got on and sat next to me in Swellendam. He was unkempt, but I am a chatty passenger, which is probably, to some, the most dreaded kind. Anyway I ascertained by and by that he was at a 'special' school and was having a birthday the same day as me. He had been quick to tell me about his ADHD problems and how he was two grades behind where he should be.
I think I went on a bit too much about the awful school system and how I feel about education and learning and incorrect judgments being made on children. I wanted to tell him, basically, that he was wonderfully good enough, no matter what, but I got lost in the telling of it, I think.
I hope I redeemed myself by eventually saying something like, 'we all get where we need to go in the end anyway'...or something like that.
I hope so, and I got to my destination eventually too, and to the embrace of my friends.

The return trip was by night and I took the very front seat with a wide spread of window. I tried to fill both seats with my books and bag and water bottle, but I had to eventually give the seat next to me up. A rather large lad took it in the end and I spoke to him as well, even though I didn't really want to. I realized that I am a bit of a compulsive talker.

He got out at every stop to smoke with loads of others. I looked down at them all,standing in a loose ring, stamping their feet in the cold and conspiratorially sharing cigarettes. I would have liked to join them, that happy band of disparate people, united in their comradely addiction, hugging themselves and flicking ash around.

I don't get out the bus if I can help it.
I like the neon glow of petrol stations at night, with their gleaming  metal motor vehicles, pausing for thought during a long journey. I like the idea of junk food on a journey too, but, like smoking, I don't do it anymore, and could hardly endure the returned lad and his brown paper bag of chips and a burger.

My little birthday boy was not on the return bus, although  we had parted with the cheerful assumption that we would see each other on our return.
I was sorry.
I had joked and told him that we would both be a year older when we saw each other again.
I was sorry I had missed him, but more than glad to get home.

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