This could hardly be called today’s Perfect Moment, but it was indeed a moment. I chose to write it here because its effect was startling.
While riding the bus, I have to make a conscious decision to either read or listen to music. This is unlike many other people I know who seem to have the ability to combine both of these passions at the same time. As for me, music that washes over me without making any impact is boring and has me searching for other music. And music which does catch my attention draws it away from books.
Today I was reading a book about Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (see my books page). I was coming to the end and was slowing down to savour the last bunch of sentences. I became aware of the young woman sitting in the seats in front of mine. Despite rocking a leopard or cheetah print ensemble (matching hair clip) she seemed to be in a bit of distress. She was weeping and trying desperately to staunch the tears with her bare hands. She started a phone call which had a very unhappy tone. I didn’t want to listen, but I could hear gasps of conversation that came between the tears.
Although I wanted to respect her privacy, I wanted to be of some comfort. I scoured my bag to find some napkins from a recent fast food stop. I shyly tapped her on the shoulder and offered her the napkins, lamenting loudly that they probably weren’t as soft as she deserved.
It was at this point that I finished the last paragraph and searched for the solace of my MP3 player. I wanted to something to distance me from the scenes around me. You see, the bus, despite being a communal vehicle, is a playground of stories told and untold. Rather than participate in them, I wanted to ruminate about the weeping lady in front of me and possibly write some paragraphs for this blog.
I chose the Velvet Underground’s Heroin to separate me from the masses. It definitely gave me some space and gave the proceedings an air of unreality. I had created a soundtrack for a great mime performance. There were couples fighting, young women trying to get noticed or at least get the attention on young me on the other side of the bus. There were people playing games on their phone and their were people texting voraciously with one or more people. I could only imagine how things were proceeding.
When I left the bus, the weeping woman thanked me again for the tissues. I explained my wish that her day (despite only a couple of hours in it remaining) would be much better. Her valiant attempt at a smile conveyed otherwise, but I was already stepping off the bus.