I’m waiting at the bus stop—my bus stop, as I sometimes think of it. Well, not my bus stop, since my bus stop is right outside my apartment, but my other bus stop. The one I waited at, two nights a week (sometimes three times), all summer long, often the only one there because there really aren’t so many people waiting for a bus out of downtown at 11 o’clock at night. My bus stop.
It’s funny. I’m coming from a completely different situation, transferring from the metro after getting drinks with some friends further up the red line. Usually when I’m at this stop, I’m coming from work—this is the most convenient bus stop to the restaurant where I used to staff events. As I sit and wait, I dig out my headphones and feel the familiar weariness settle in, the feeling that comes from being downtown at 11 p.m. on a Thursday but also the weariness of having spent six hours smiling at people as they get on the elevator, which I haven’t done for months now. They’re weariness echoes. The ghost of weariness past.
The bus comes—my bus—and I get on and head for my usual seat. This bus is a different model than most, though, so the spot I’d usually take—the warm one right by the engine, even more attractive now that it’s chilly out—doesn’t exist. I settle into a seat in the back corner instead.
It’s funny how these habits form. It’s not as if I was there all that often—I didn’t work there every day, wasn’t at that location for more than about two months—but it happens all the same. These patterns form in our brains, these tracks marks in our minds so deep we can’t forget them even when we’re done using them. I could trace this bus route in my sleep.
I think about the other habits that form. Stopping by the bakery on Friday mornings on my way to work. Popping into CVS for a Reese’s on my way home. Taking O St. home from class instead of P, even though P is just as quick. (The already-familiar mental groan as I realize I still need to write a blog post.) Things as simple as throwing my keys into my bag before I even consciously realize that I’m done unlocking the door. It’s a weird thing, the brain.
My bus heads up my street. I always have a moment of panic, even after all this time, when it passes the stop before mine—the corners really aren’t alike, but I get them mixed up anyway. It’s as much a habit as pressing the button at the proper stop, swinging into the aisle as the bus pulls to a halt, saying a quick Thank You or Good Night to the bus driver—it’s usually just the two of us by this point, maybe one other person—and heading to my door.
It’s comforting, in a way. The knowledge that even as things change, as I change and the world changes around me, some things stay the same. I still have my bus.