It used to be that my ride to work involved sitting on a gray plastic bench underground that travelled underwater until I got off that bench, transfered to a different (orange and red) bench and sat next to at least one Hasidic man and usually a Chinese woman and sometimes a Mariachi band would walk through and we'd all groan because 9:30am is never a good time for a Mariachi band to try and get tips. During this underground ride, I'd read about 19th century women in novels who, when rejected by their husbands who find out they had once been raped, are forced to wander the countryside of Southern England alone, burrying their dead babies and wishing they could be forgiven. I read these stories even as I walked off the train, headed up the three flights of stairs into morning light and walked as carefully as I could up Lafayette Street without bumping into any hot dog stands or bike messengers.
I loved my commute.
Now it's different. I'm always the first one on the bus, because I'm the second stop, and if anyone gets on at the first stop, it's usually Joanne Badly, my Interpretive Methods professor and she's awesome and sometimes we've sat and chatted and sometimes we both gesture to the book we're holding or the papers we're grading, and we smile and I take a seat near the back door where I prefer to sit.
My music moods have changed about every three months, and it's probably the low clouds and cool but not freezing winds that have me listening to sad folk music from the 60's or over-earnest folk music from the 90's. Sometimes, after I get on, the bus driver pulls over to Crown Hill Lutheran Church, one of the apparently designated bathroom stops approved by the transit board, and he/she gets off the bus and leaves me there alone for a couple minutes. I guess they can tell that I'm not going to try to drive the bus away, but rather, will enjoy the time alone to sing outloud while no one can hear, just like I used to do in the car when whomever was driving ran in to the gorcery store and I would sing "The Carpenters" or some Balkan folk song at the top of my lungs making sure no one was standing near enough the car to hear me.
But my favorite part of my bus ride is crossing the Ballard Bridge and looking down at the fishing boats. So many fishing boats. And as we near the end of the bridge, we cross the area where one boat at a time is brought in for repainting and repair. Every week and a half or so, a new boat appears and I watch it day by day as it's red lettering fills out and the rust dissapears under new paint. The last boat I saw down there was the Resolute, and before it, Augustine and the St. John. The boat there now doesn't have a visible name, but there's some Norse-looking desings painted on the front where a naked lady would be if it were a pirate ship.
I like my new commute. Even if the one time I saw someone with a yarmulke get on the bus I got so excited, only to realize it was just his cowlick making his hair look like he was Orthodox. At least there's still a Chinese lady next to me.