When I was a kid, I walked to school and my parents had a car to drive me to gymnastics and dance on the weekend. I didn’t start taking the bus until I was in high school, and even then, only in grade 10. It was a revelation. With two little coloured tickets, I could go anywhere I wanted to, and be totally free, until I had to be home for dinner. And my parents were handing them out to me. They were giving me freedom.
The thing I love most about the bus these days, now that I (mostly) live away from my parents and bus surfing has become old hat, is the people watching. I see so many cool people on the bus. I especially love taking the late afternoon bus, and seeing all the different kinds of people.
I love the woman I encounter most days who gets on the bus in the Glebe, always wearing a skirt suit, with her baby in a carrier on her front. She wears her suit jacket over the carrier, so she looks perfectly office ready, with a literal baby bump out the front. She spends the whole bus ride with one hand on him, with a beautiful light in her eyes.
There’s a guy who I notice on the bus from time to time, less for his snappy dressing (so classic, refined, and masculine… but he looks my age. Props.) than for his confident attitude. He breezes on and off the bus, in his own world, unconcerned by anyone else on the bus. I always wonder where he’s going.
The other day I saw an androgynous girl with a funky short haircut and fantastic sneakers. She had an iPod tucked into her back pocket and held a copy of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She carried it the way some girls carry clutch purses – books as accessories! Fabulous. Especially since so many books have a lot of aesthetic value, whether they’re trendy new paperbacks, or yellowed and old, with a worn cover (can you tell I love paperbacks?). I wanted to take her picture, and kicked myself for being without my camera.
I find buses to be extremely inspiring places. I always see someone I want to capture, as an image or a story. I mostly imagine where I think they are going, why they’re going there, and most importantly, where they’re coming from, gathering any clues I can from their body language. I would love to spend hours sitting on a busy bus, listening to intriguing riders tell me their stories.