Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stumbling Daily Forward

Somehow I manage to get myself dressed and out the door, onto my bike, onto a bus and onto another bus. This I do five mornings each week. My kishkas knot up. My body tenses like an overwound watch.
[Digression #1] No one knows what that means anymore? A watch you wind? What is that? In fact, what is a watch?
The well-worn route I travel each workday, so familiar to me, so benign on the surface, is strewn with any number of accidents. I stand and wait for busses. I shift my weight uncomfortably from leg to leg. My feet ache. My back sways into a chiropractor's dream scenario from the bag I have slung over my shoulder. The bike ride puts me in traffic. It's me and cars and trucks all sharing not too friendly a narrow strip of potholed concrete for a mile. I get off the road and ride on the sidewalk, very training-wheels-in-Oak-Park, MI, circa 1964. Except now there is a mass of Grant High School kids all looking down at their handheld devices even as we head toward each other and I swerve up onto patches of crabgrass that grow between the sidewalk and the curb. It's their sidewalk. Where the hell did I come from? This is not my native soil.
The first bus smells like tangy funk. A barrage of chatter, music and closed circuit TransitTV assaults from every direction. The second bus is across a busy street from the stop where I get off the first bus. If I see the second bus coming, I make a mad dash, wagging my finger and making aggressive eye contact at oncoming traffic to signal my desperate need to be on that bus.
On that bus the seats are more comfortable. There's almost always one for me, but where will I sit? Wedged next to a garrulous UCLA coed or a heavyset middle-aged office worker? I turn up my headphones. The radio, a podcast, maybe some music, whatever I listen to is just more mindnumbing static.
I only want my gut to be calm until I'm in the safety of my steel and glass enclosure.

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