“I liked the way we smoked back in the day, as opposed to now; I liked sneaking it.”
Older gentleman waiting nearby, after some initial pleasantries: “You in love with somebody?”
Bus Chick: “I’m married.”
Older gent: “That’s not what I asked.”
Touché. And yes.
Earlier this month, I celebrated my car-free anniversary. As of March 5th (or was it the 6th?), I’m officially seven years in.
It’s been an eventful seven years. I bought a home, got married, lost my beloved mother to cancer, and had two children. Navigating so many major life events without a car in a city that all but requires one has certainly had its challenges, but it has also integrated the bus into all of my significant recent memories*–and made it impossible for me to imagine my life without Metro. As I wrote in my Real Change column back in 2006, buses have associations for me.
Riding the Water Taxi reminds me of the days I spent with my mother during her last months of life. The first time I rode it to my parents’ Seacrest Park condo the spring after she died, I cried. Sometimes I still do.
The 545 will forever feel romantic to me, since it’s the route Nerd and I rode together in the early days of our courtship. I don’t think I’ve ever looked more forward to a commute–or for that matter, to anything.
The 4 and 27 are my baby buses–the 4 because I rode it to all of my obstetrician appointments–and home from the hospital with Chicklet; the 27 because I rode it to the hospital to deliver Chicklet and home from the hospital with Busling.
And there are many more. The Ballard buses (17, 18) take me to my brother, Jeremy (and also remind me of my rather unfortunate adventure as a ball-gown model); the 55 takes me to my Joelie and the place I still consider home; the 14 is all about TAC meetings, Top Pot (Summit side), and writing group get-togethers at my friend Marchel’s house (Mount Baker side); the 194: Paris, Detroit, and airport goodbyes with Bus Nerd; the 8: Mom again.
And the 36, though it’s not one of my regular routes, reminds me of why I ride: to be a part of my community, and to share my travels with the people I share the world with.
Bring on the next seven.
A cell phone snippet from a young gentleman on his way to band practice:
“Yeah, I was going to try to show you my nipple.”
I have to say, as much as I loathe change (and as much as I will surely miss hopping the 48 for all my southbound needs), the New Bus Order actually seems to be working in my favor. Some examples of the goodness:
• The 8 now runs in my neighborhood on weekends. Folks, I have been dreaming of this day for most of my car-free life (six-and-a-half years and counting), and I cannot believe it’s actually happened. Capitol Hill (specifically, the north end of 15th Ave) will be seeing at lot more of me on Saturday afternoons.
• The 27 now connects with the 17 instead of the 25. I love this for several reasons, the most important of which is that my brother Jeremy recently moved to Ballard, and Metro now provides what amounts to a door-to-door ride from my place to his. (Much beloved) brother aside, I have a lot more reasons to go to Ballard than I do to go to Laurelhurst.* And honestly, the connection just seems to make more sense. While the 27/17 combo eliminates an already necessary transfer between the Central District and Ballard, the 27/25 combo is slower and less direct than the two-bus options (48+75 and 48+30) between the CD and Laurelhurst.**
• Now that the 14 stops at Mount Baker Station, I have four ways to connect with Link: 27 to DSTT, 4 to DSTT, 48 to Mount Baker Station, and 14 to Mount Baker Station. I don’t go to the airport all that often, but when I do, I’ll have more control of when I come and go.
I’m sure I’ll discover more things to like (and not) as I ride more.
Your turn. How have Metro’s latest changes affected you?
* No offense to all my former school buddies who lived there back in the day–I do miss our excursions to the Mr. Peepers-era U Village–or to the very alt-commute friendly Children’s Hospital.
** Really, though, there’s no fast way to get from where I live to Laurelhurst, despite the fact that it’s not all that far.
A 60-ish, somewhat disheveled man approaches and addresses me in several languages (Amharic, Spanish, Italian) trying to figure out which I speak. We finally settle on a mix of French and English, and (thanks to my growing belly) immediately start talking parenthood. He tells me I remind him of his daughter, who was recently married. “It was in the New York Times,” he says, fishing a crumpled piece of newsprint out of his wallet.
He points to some text under the photo of the handsome, smiling couple, the part that tells about the bride’s family in Seattle, then pulls out his license to show me that his name matches the name of the father listed in the announcement.
“See? That’s me,” he says. “Me.”
We talk for a few minutes longer, about Chicklet, and my due date, and how I am feeling.
Abruptly, he pulls a wilted, slightly blackened red rose from his coat pocket, thrusts it into my hand, and prepares to leave.
“Take care of the babies,” he says, smiling. “Take care of your precious babies.”
His eyes are filled with tears.
A bus newbie, to the driver: “Hey, do they always gas the buses up at night or something? Because I never see buses at the gas station.”
A man sitting directly behind me is chatting up the woman next to him.
Man: “Oh, you hurt your finger! Want me to kiss it and make it better?”
Man: “You know, like when you were little, and you hurt yourself, and your mom would kiss it to make it better?”
Woman: “No. Mom wasn’t around. My grandma always said, ‘quit your whining and keep moving.'”