Waiting for the Bus
I’m quite sure you’ve noticed how slow time passes when you’re waiting for something. I guess it really depends on what you’re waiting for. If you’re waiting for something wonderful to happen, time passes slowly; if you’re waiting for something bad to happen, then time flies. It’s all connected, I think, to Einstein’s theory that says time is relative – it depends on your vantage point.
Anyway… I’m sitting here waiting for the bus. I’m going home. I could wait for the bus in my house, it’s right over there around the corner, but today’s an extraordinary winter day. The sun is shining, it’s almost 60 degrees, and there’s a hint of spring in the air. I don’t want to waste such a wonderfully pleasant day in the middle of winter – soon the cold, heartless, bitter soul of winter will be back and I’ll not be able to wait for the bus out here, that’s for sure.
Sure, you can sit next to me on the bench. I don’t mind. Not my bench…city’s. I was thinking about getting up and getting a cup of coffee though. Would you like to join me? There’s a little convenience store down the street. It’s called “Joe’s” and Joe still owns it, I believe. I’ll be darned if I know his last name. I’ve frequented his store hundreds of times over the years,to pick up a gallon of milk or a bag of ice – but usually only when the supermarket is closed; Joe’s prices are outrageous.
Except for his coffee.
Joe makes the best coffee and sells a big cup for just a buck. I bet you’ll say it’s the best coffee you ever had. It’s the best coffee I’ve ever had anyway. It sure beats those places like Starbucks that serve up some nasty tasting coffee – for $4. Save your money, my friend. If you want coffee that tastes like a warm milkshake, maybe Starbucks is the place to go – but if you want a plain cup of coffee, you can’t beat Joe’s. Come on, join me. It’s only a five minute walk.
It’s nice of you to walk with me. It’s not often I have company anymore. I seem to be an opposing magnet these days – you know, pushing people away as if I were some sort of pariah. I don’t think I am – maybe it’s just my demeanor.
But it doesn’t bother me.
When I was much younger it seemed if I wasn’t surrounded by people, I was unhappy – no, in fact, I was miserable. Now that I’m older, I spend a great deal of my time alone. Funny thing is, I really don’t mind it at all.
No, I really don’t have much to do these days. Some nights I struggle to say awake past 8:00 PM because I’m sleepy or I’m bored. I love to read, but lately, no matter how exciting or interesting a book is, I fall asleep reading. When I wake up, there’s the book on the floor, and I’ve lost my place. I have to fiddle and fumble around to try to figure out where I left off. But I do still love to read – these days mostly newspapers & magazines. I have a computer, and a tablet, but I find, in my world, there’s nothing like the feel and the smell of a real newspaper or a real book in my hand.
Am I boring you? I know I ramble on sometimes. Perhaps most of time. Well, I guess it’s because I’m used to talking to myself. It never seems like I am rambling on to me. That’s one thing nice about talking to myself – I don’t mind the rambling or disconnected thoughts. I’m sorry. I’ll try not to ramble. I promise — Joe’s is right up there — third door down. See? It’s the one with the red sign above the white door. “Joe’s Corner Market”. Got to give him credit. He’s a survivor. It’s one of the few mom & pop convenience stores left in this world of instant convenience.
Let’s go in and I’ll buy you a cup of the best java you’ve ever had… what do you say? Great! Let’s go.
How’s that coffee? See? I told you. No one would ever guess that a dilapidated, out-of-date store, like Joe’s, could serve up such a heavenly brew. Hey… I have to be getting back to the bus stop now, never know when that bus will come. They don’t operate that bus on a schedule.
Sure, you can walk back with me. Glad to have you along. You can sit with me at the bus stop if you like, I’ve got nothing else to do these days, but wait for the bus. It just never seems to come. It will come – I am certain it will.
I’m going home, did I tell you? I’ve been away so long. So very long.
There we go. The bench at the bus stop is still empty – waiting for me. Getting a little chillier not. Wind is picking up. Well it’s not sixty degrees anymore, but it still doesn’t feel like winter. More like a cold day in April — or a mild day in March, I’d say. How about you? I agree. By the time evening comes it will be bone-rattling cold. I’m not worried, if the bus hasn’t come by then, I’ll just go back to my old house, curl up under a comforter on the couch and read til I fall asleep. I think tonight’s going to be another early night for me — if my bus doesn’t come.
What’s that? Oh, I’m afraid that’s something I can’t explain or teach you. You’re far too young yet, You’d never understand. It’s something you have to learn by living; it can’t be taught. It’s a funny thing – they say you can learn things so much easier when your young because your mind is more open to learning – but there are things you can’t learn until the years pass. What things? I can’t explain. If I could, I would. I’m not trying to be mysterious or condescending. Honest. I really can’t explain why I can’t explain this to you. I do promise though, as you get older, you’ll know.
Oh really? I’m sorry to have kept you so long. I forgot how busy I used to be at your age. I hope I didn’t bore you to death. Oh, let me take that — there’s a trash bin right there on the corner. I’ll toss it for you on my way back to the house. It was a pleasure meeting you too, miss. I hope you have a great rest of the day. It’s not often I have the pleasure of the company of a pretty young lady. You made my day. Yes, that’s true. I may indeed see you again. I sit out here on this bench quite often – when the weather isn’t too bad. Yes, I’d like that. You know I just might see you again – if the weather is nice and my bus hasn’t come. Thanks for saying that. I was so afraid I was boring you. Goodbye, miss.
Oh, what’s that? Ok. Well then, goodbye Jenny, it was very nice meeting you.
That wind is getting colder. Time to start heading back to the house.
What a nice young lady. It was nice to have company – or at least someone who seemed interested in talking with me, I must admit. It’s been a while – OK, I admit – it has been a long time. Most of my friends these days live in books… or in my memory. All I have left of – what’s her name – Jenny -that’s right – is this empty cup that I’m about to toss away. Well, she’s not in a book – I would bet she’ll live in my memory for a while anyway. Maybe she’ll meet some of my old friends there. Maybe I’ll even remember her until the bus comes and I am finally on my way home.
It’s already getting dark. Another long winter night ahead. It seems cold in here. Thermostat says 71. Wonder why I’m so cold? I’m not turning up the heat – the thermostat says it’s 71 so it must be – feels like 55 to me.
Think I’ll lie down on the couch and read a book. I’ve been reading the same book for over a week now – it’s only 351 pages. When I was in college I was reading a book every other day. Voracious reader. Not so much anymore. Love to read – just can’t stay awake.
I’m on page 171. Almost halfway through. Normally, I would not put up with a book that made me trudge through over 100 pages to get to the point where the book piqued my interest, but H.R. Galaman is one of my favorite authors, so I persevered through the boring start and now I’m glad I did. It’s getting really interesting.
Now if I could only keep my eyes open.
Before I get comfortable. I better eat something. I’m kind of hungry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like if I skipped a meal, I’d blow away. I figure, I could skip a month’s worth of meals before I was thin enough to blow away. When I was younger I was always on a diet. Ha! The foibles of youth.
I think there’s some tuna fish salad left in the fridge. I made it 2 days ago, so it should be OK to eat. It smells OK. I’ll heat up some soup and make myself a tuna fish salad sandwich.
When I sit down to eat dinner, I usually find myself flipping on the TV for company – or else lose myself in thought reflecting on the day. Most days the TV wins – not much to reflect on. Today is not one of those days.
I wonder if I bored her? Did I rattle on too much about Joe’s coffee? What difference does it make? Really?
I find I laugh at myself a lot. Like it really matters if I rambled on too much about Joe’s coffee – what does it matter what anyone thinks. She seemed interested in what I had to say – she made me feel like a wise old sage – it felt good to me noticed for something. But I don’t know why she sat with me and listened to me – and what’s most important: It doesn’t matter. I was waiting for the bus, like I do every day and she came along and talked to me. That’s all I know for sure. She probably felt sorry for me – sitting alone on that bench staring off into space. I bet I looked like I had nothing better to do. Looks don’t always deceive, do they? Maybe she’s just one of those empathetic, in-tune-with-humanity’s-woes types. Not that I have any particular woes for her to tune in to.
I am just waiting for the bus.
Sandwich was so-so – the tuna salad definitely needed more celery. The soup was typical canned soup – salty and hot. Good enough to dunk my sandwich in to, anyway.
Often wonder about the “last” this and the “last” that. You know – there is always a last time for everything. I don’t want to be morbid, but, it’s true. There will be a last time for everything. Last time I brush my teeth, last time I take a walk, last time I’ll drink coffee, last time I’ll answer the phone, last time I look up at the sky, last time I’ll go to bed, last time I’ll get up, ha! .. last time I’ll eat tuna salad…
It’s a really good thing I don’t know when the last time I’ll do a certain thing is. Can you imagine the pressure. If I knew it was the last time I’d be going to bed – do you think I’d go to bed? Ha! I’d never go to bed, but I’d probably fall asleep in a chair or something and never wake up. Is that morbid? Nah. It’s just me.
Now if I knew this would be the last time I’d be going to the bathroom… that would be a real problem. I don’t think I could put that off for day or two.
I’m tired. I have been waiting for he bus for such a long time. It seems, now, that my life has come down to mostly waiting for the bus. Just waiting for the bus to take me home. I haven’t been home in decades.
I was just thinking… why do people say someone’s “gone” when they die? I’ve always wondered that. You see it in movies all the time: The grim doctor, the old wife with the careworn face. She looks at her husband and then she looks at the doctor and all the doctor says is “He’s gone, Sally. I’m sorry”. Is he sorry he’s gone? Or is he sorry for Sally. Or is he sorry at all? Doesn’t matter at all – it’s just a movie.
Tomorrow will be another day of waiting for the bus. The bus that does not run on a schedule, but the bus that always comes. The bus that will finally take me home.
Maybe the bus will come tonight. It could, you know. I very well might.
Maybe tonight’s the night it will stop for me and take me home. If it does, I wonder how long it will be before someone comes to my house looking for me? A day? Two days? Longer? I wonder who it might be? The mailman? UPS guy? Jenny? When they find me , will they say “He’s gone?”
In that case, they’d be right. I’d be gone, all right.
It’s the same bus I rode in on; I’ll be taking that same bus home… whenever it comes.
So, I’m just waiting for the bus. Aren’t we all?
Because I could not stop for Death
by Emily Dickinson
“Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –”
…Emily Dickinson 1862