Today I was forced to re-familiarize myself with a fantastic mode of transportation; Public.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, these days I must, for certain reasons, now take the bus. I have always liked the PVTA. It's one of the reasons I moved to the Valley 16 years ago. But back then they were free. Some days I'd just get high and ride the bus. Get on, get off. Poke around in Yesterday and Today Records (don't look for it. It's not there anymore.) and get back on the bus. But back then, when I was 21, this was actually fun. Today, it sucks.
Well, I was ready for it to suck, but this was something it definitely did not do (what a stupid American axiom. Something sucking, how did this get started? Savages, all of us.). In fact, in light of it's inherent confining limitations, it was pretty liberating. But before I could feel the chains of private, voluntary, spontaneous transit be temporarily broken, I had to learn how to walk again.
It's not as easy as it sounds. You can't just throw on a pair of sneakers and head out into the snowy, mushy, wet battleground that is winter in New England. No, if you're going to walk farther then 500 yards you have to pick appropriate shoes. Some days even appropriate socks. Today was one of these days. Cold, windy air that made the insides of your nose crystallize with frost upon each inhale. Fun stuff. Fun when you're 5 going on 6, not in your late 30's going on 40. But I must find the silver lining where I can these days and today I did. I got to enjoy slowing down. Slowing right the fuck down and actually paying attention to what's around me rather than what I'm heading into. I got to feel the rubber on my shoes caress the snow covered tarmac and I felt safe. I got to enjoy the sound of the snow as I ravaged and plundered it. "Carrrump-carrunch. Carrump-carrunch" it yelled. It made my lower calves vibrate. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as the way squeezing a cotton ball back and forth between my fingers or cutting an egg carton with a pair of scissors makes me feel. Aaargh! Stop it-stop it-stop it!!!! Yeah, I know. I'm weird.
So I made it to the bus stop. Other travellers were there and waiting giving me a sense of calm, quiet unity. I hadn't missed my ride. Five short minutes later the big orange, blue, and white behemoth was barrel-assing towards me with an affected gait. It came to an uneasy stop before me and hissed and belched. It's front end dropped and waited like a dog who has just pushed a ball in your direction and is slobbering on its paws waiting with nervous excitement for you to continue the game. And I did.
One measly dollar and I was on my way. Me, the other tethered miscreants, and one craggy, crotchety old man at the helm. It was like a goddamn pirate ship and I was a new recruit. The veteran riders gave me the once over as I pounded my snowy, cold, and wet feet upon the first step making my presence known. Kind of 4 second traditional rite of passage dance which is not only necessary, but polite as well. Each stop brought it's own new surprise. The lady who put her bags down and had to pull out 5 items including the Big Y fish sticks to find her purse. The old man with the stoma who, when he put his finger to it in order to speak, emitted words in the register of a soprano reciting an almost inscrutable series of phrases. Everyone knew what he said except for me. There's plenty of running jokes on the PVTA. Especially in winter session. I'll get to know a few before my time is up. I just have to listen. I just have to slow down.
I had a cup of tea in town.
Normally I would have gotten it to go and then wrangled with my curiously inconveniently placed cup holders. Today, as I had no meter to concern myself with, I got it for there. It was nice. It was civil. It didn't come with a cookie and tiny chocolate covered almond, but it did come in a beautiful black teapot with matching cup and saucer. And I don't even want to get into how adorable the blonde girl with the jeans and sequined All Stars was who served it to me. As it was, I almost walked away without what I had ordered. Her smile was enough. It was genuine. It made me feel...welcome. I took a seat at the counter against the wall. As I sat sipping possibly the most delicious cup of Earl Grey I have ever had I looked up. To be more precise, I focused on what was directly in front of me. An orchid. A beautiful, tiny, pink, white, and yellow orchid. It was stunning. Serene. Out of place yet entirely in its element and it had company. A few more orchids of various sizes and colors were flanking it on the left and the right and they were staring directly at me; giving me the once over. They were looking at the new guy who just came in from the cold and took a seat next to them. The guy that just stamped his feet for 4 seconds at the entry way. The guy from the bus.
The guy who was learning how to slow down.