The sun is, strictly speaking, up before 7:30, but it’s muffled somewhere under the covers and not shedding much light. The middle lane down First Avenue is a snow hump. A forearm-of-Thor icicle glistens outside my bathroom window.
When I moved across town from my job, I knew the day would come when I’d surrender my car keys and hop a bus to campus.
And that day is here.
I recognize that riding the bus is not a higher-order thinking task. Why should it cause anxiety? I rode public transportation all over Eastern Europe, ciphering Cyrllic metro station names in Kiev, monkey miming in Odessa to get a taxi ride to a seafood restaurant.
When I rode the bus last week, for the first time since moving to Spokane, I felt a little lost, a little nervous that I’d look like the designated airhead who doesn’t know that (duh) you pay when you board. I worried that my exact change would fall out of my coat pocket and into the snow.
The bus takes me a way through Spokane I’d never traveled before, past an “office machine” store called Abacus, past Donut Parade with marching fritters and éclairs painted outside the shop.
Plus the bus is prime people-watching time. A woman boards with a Warhol-ish Betty Boop four-color tote bag. Two men sit on opposite sides of the bus and carry on a loud and punchy debate about the efficacy of labor unions. (Who has energy to be so loud so early?)
I am not winter’s biggest cheerleader (I really might not drive again until April). But when the trees are lit and thickly frosted, and men and women board their busses in hoods and scarves like tall schoolchildren with lattes, well, there’s something a little magical about it. (Also, I went to a yoga class recently during which the instructor reminded us to feel each season. Winter, I feel you!)
The short walk from the station back to my house reminds me that I live in a city, so I’m not a shut-in, even in a storm. The bus plaza, I might add, is a couple of blocks from Macy’s, Banana Republic, and a 20-screen multiplex movie theater.
This could be dangerous.