Art by Paul Rios
It is mid-morning and I am riding in the far backseat of a bus, the number of which is close to the number of days I have been divorced. The ride is not long, maybe ten minutes or so and I just want to be quiet. I just want to BE quiet: stillness, silence, rest, peace. My eyes wander from the windows to the aisles to the backs of the heads of other passengers, but I am not seeing. I am taking an inventory of shapes, isolated from their contexts and repurposed as vehicles for my own meanings. I see nothing but femininity: hips and grace and breasts and warmth. For a second I wonder how much of this is seen, versus how much is actually scene, or the projection of my own mind.
A flutter of panic washes quickly over as I question the reliability of my own narration. And so I sit with my thoughts. Thoughts of fucking, fucking other thoughts, until my head is teeming with the illegitimate progeny of my own lust and frustration. The bus stops. A woman steps on, a girl in actuality, the logo on her jacket signaling her high school. I shut my eyes. These thoughts are brutes and I am shamed and I close my eyes to protect her from them. And yet I know I am not my thoughts, so I open my eyes again.
Outside, a new mother runs by in the impossible garments that are specifically made for running. She pushes a three-wheeled stroller, presumably carrying her tot, in her effort to get back to her fighting weight. She shimmers. Womanhood radiates from her in waves. For a second I think I can smell her, or rather the smell of “Womanhood,” the concept. And then I realize I am smelling an idea and I don’t know how to feel about that. The answer never materializes by the time she has bounded out of sight.
Indeed, no answer ever comes. I pull the yellow cord to signal my stop and depart. I work my shift and I ride the bus home. The difference between the number of days since my divorce and my bus route grows more disparate and I become more comfortable with this scene the more it repeats. There is nothing wrong. I have been here before and I will return again. Nothing is ever that different.
Ian Elrick is:
1) A person that lives in the Pacific Northwest.
2) Of mainly average proportions, skills, looks and intelligence.
3) A sucker for a simple machine.