Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

With my new job, my commute has changed dramatically. I once drove 25-35 minutes each way, depending on traffic. I had to take five different highways, across the south metro, in order to get to work. There were some things were really lovely things about my commute. Half an hour each day of MPR, for one thing, and the view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline from the 94 overpass in the early evening, for another. But, I hated driving so far and so long to get to work.

Now, I take the bus to work every day. It's a 20 minute bus trip, with maybe 5-10 minutes of standing outside waiting for the bus to arrive in the morning or the evening. The bus takes me straight through the Seward neighborhood, a really hip and diverse area. Even though the bus stops at every block, practically, I enjoy it so much more.

It's such a shift in lifestyle and focus, to ride the bus each day. Driving in a car is a solitary activity -- I'm in my car, in my little bubble, driving at ridiculously high speeds next to other cars, other people in their little bubbles. A bus ride, on the other hand, is a communal experience. Especially during rush hour. I am pressed next to other travelers, trying to get to their respective jobs, schools, and lives.

But with my own space comes a certain level of freedom. When I'm driving in my car, I can argue with the politicians on MPR, sing along to my Ani DiFranco tapes, and pick my nose, if I wanted. When I'm on the bus, I journal in the mornings and people watch or read at night. I've been doing morning pages, a la Julia Cameron, to start my day off with a focus on my writing. I plug in my ear buds and tap my feet, maybe, but otherwise stay motionless. The goal on a bus is not to be noticed, not to take up too much space, not to annoy your fellow commuters. The goal in your car has nothing to do with the other commuters. It's about your own destination.

To be sure, I love the bus commute more. I could drive to work each day, and make it in 10 minutes, but there's something that's so relaxing and calming about this bus commute. There's less independence and flexibility, but I get to watch the neighborhood to pass by my window, without having to battle the traffic. I get to watch the people on the bus, in all their idiosyncrasies. And I get to start my day by writing, which is the way it should be.

So what if the guy next to me smells like beer at 8:30 AM?

5 Comments:

Jo said...

The goal on a bus is not to be noticed, not to take up too much space, not to annoy your fellow commuters. The goal in your car has nothing to do with the other commuters. It's about your own destination.


Love this!

Paul said...

Oh the sheer joy of travel by bus among the hoi polloi ! :-)

paisley said...

and oh think about the possible blog fodder you will encounter!!!!! delicious!!!

...deb said...

Great essay on the joys (and oddities) of bus commuting. I enjoyed reading it, and am pleased for this new part of your daily life. Cool.

(I saw something this morning that I have to write about before the memory fades. I was reading The Pajamaist and then...I have to writie it down. Do you think a bus-riders-blog would draw much readership?!?)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love taking the bus too. Great for people watching and eavesdropping.