It is after midnight. The bus is almost empty. There is an old man at the front holding a paper grocery bag. There is a young brown-haired flower at the back. There are faint traces of perfume floating about. There is me, sitting somewhere amongst these things. This bus will stop running in less than an hour. I have about 25 blocks to travel. There is…something…to traveling by bus at night. Certain feelings are evoked; strange combinations of distance and comfort. I’ve always thought that things seem more real at night. The houses look more alive. Perhaps it’s the prominence of yellow light in the windows. The insides become visible, but they are not completely revealed.
Such is the nature of nighttime bus riding. The busses travel along and the city light streaks the windows and the rider’s reflections get painted with streaks of orange and white. Occasionally, one catches a glimpse of a fellow rider in a darkened window. Glances are exchanged through two pieces of glass facing opposite directions. Sometimes, one looks back a few times and finds the same set of eyes looking at them. Sometimes, its just the moving lights.
The old man pulls the cord and exits the bus. He glances to the back before leaving me and the brunette. Then there is almost loneliness. My stop is approaching. The last run of the day tumbles on and I watch the distorted face of the brownhaired girl in the window. It is tempting to stay on until the end of the line. I find myself reaching up and pulling the cord. I find myself getting up to leave. I find my eyes wandering to the back of the bus. She is looking out the window. Maybe looking at the same thing I was. The bus grinds to a halt. That tincture of perfume disappears instantly as I step to the concrete curb and the busdoors slide together behind me.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?