The day bus and the night bus are different. In the sunlight, people board brief-cased and fresh. We have a purpose, or the air of one, a destination in mind as we check our watches with a practiced flick of the head and sigh into our Smart Phones.
In the shadows, riders come and go unseen and silent. We move with a weight, the stench of exhaustion heavy on our sloped shoulders. Defeat is a passenger on the night bus, and Poverty, and Loneliness.
The bus itself is an entirely separate creature in the dark. Like the fluorescent fish that haunt the ocean’s unlit trenches, the bus brings streaks of dazzling glow to the sullied and tired corners of the city. It lures the drunk and tired with light that bursts forth, effulgent amidst dingy brick buildings and parked cars. Alleyways that remain mired in gloom even in the noon sun are suddenly exposed by headlamps, and people crawl forth like termites from the woodwork, scuttling towards the blaze and quiet community of fellow riders.
I realized, recently, that even when I’m riding next to Defeat, musty and crumpled, I’m sitting three seats away from Hope, too. I can catch an eye-glimmer from Glee, who is wearing a sunshine-yellow suit and whose jolly-nosed red shoes seem to be tap dancing under the bench. It might be me who is Sorrow, walking in the trenches of my well-trained Brain, until I look up and see Joy bouncing down the aisle with an alligator-grabber from the Zoo gift shop and the wide smear of a chocolate grin.
At a time when it is scary and uncomfortable for me to Come As I Am, the bus community reminds me that sometimes it is okay. Evenings right now are especially challenging, as the fatigue of the day wears through my protective coat, and I long to be alone and held all at once. So as dusk settles in, the bus pulls blazingly, blindingly up to my downtown stop, and my fellow termites and I scurry on board, join this tiny subsection of the Human Community with all its Emotions and Thoughts. And in a strange way, I am held by this sea of people, even as they are all alone in their own heads. We are alone, and yet forced to connect for a split second when we stand to allow someone else to sit, united when we hear the giggle of a child. Whoever I sit next to, whether it’s Shame or Frustration or Happiness, I get to hold a little piece of it for a short time, even if they don’t know it. And I get to give up a little piece of Who I Am, in the moment, too. In a strange way I am struggling to articulate, we strangers on the bus share the Weight of being Human until we get off at our stop.
It is imperfectly perfect, this Coming As We Are, this showing up as Human. I’m going to keep trying it, with Faith that good things come-on the night bus, on the day bus, and beyond.