For the past 4 years I have been riding public transportation. It began when in my second semester attending ASU. At first I took an express route that went straight from my housing community to the Tempe campus. It was enjoyable, being that the maximum number of passengers were around 15 people. I was able to get to know a few people, including a middle aged recently divorced woman who drove my route home; the time in which I was usually the only passenger. She taught me a lot about growing up, the politics, the money, and romantic relationships with men.
I also met a man in charge of directing future public transportation development in the Phoenix valley. He taught me a lot about how important advertising really is. This route, unfortunately, did not have much advertisement, and it perished under the Arizona July sun.
At this point, I switched onto local routes, as well as a route that took me to downtown Phoenix, where I would then backtrack to Tempe from the light rail. Not having a car can be a lot of work, I must admit.
Oh man, it was around this time where every morning became an adventure. From having to walk through pockets of wildlife and becoming well acquainted with coyotes and homeless people, to seeing the vast fields of reservation land, then being enriched with the vibrant hues of murals and graffiti on the way to my stop in downtown Phoenix, I could never get bored. Not only this, but the people on the route I rode with most certainly made for an interesting transit. The route was really for middle class business people, fairly white collar and seemingly not very interested in the arts. It appeared, at first, somewhat draining to be around the sort of folk who were living such a different life from me.
But really, they aren’t very different, nor are they draining. It seems like I am a good contrast, me and the other few college students on there; we are the sort of flare of a cardinal against a grey sky, suddenly revealing the various reds and blues culminating the clouds. It’s during this route I’m learning that people are not so different from each other, but also is it no less that they are any bit normal.
I also met a homeless man named Ruben, who insisted he show me his portfolio on his cell phone (as even homeless people have cell phones now a days) after he saw I had a sketchbook hiding between me and the window. I swear, homeless people LOVE art students and artists more than they love Jimi Hendrix or dream catchers. Anyhow, the twist to that story is that this occurred the morning proceeding the hours I had spent the evening before polishing a well researched paper on the Flemish artist Rubens, and here is Ruben telling me about his long profession in art, which has ultimately come to a fateful halt.
I suppose I am telling this story because my lack of utilizing money on a car has ultimately shaped a part of me as a person. For instance, people used to terrify me; now it’s easy to approach just about anyone. Vomit, piss, blood, and all other forms of bodily fluids in an inappropriate setting used to do nothing but put me in shock. Well, let’s just say, I’ve seen a lot of things happen on the city bus. But it’s one my daily route where I can put in my head phones, gaze out the window, and just let my mind wander, comfortably among strangers. I can say confidently that it’s on the bus where I find “me” time, and each morning I look forward to see what each ritual travel brings me.
I’m kind of bummed I didn’t take photos of these people. Now I feel the need to draw memory sketches of their faces. Woo projects!