Metro Musings / by An

Last Wednesday I had a few hours to kill and a bus pass at my disposal (thanks Katlyn). You would think I'd be bored of buses now after 3 years of commuting, but no, I'm still very much in love.

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The plan was to have no plan. The only requirements were that I had to get to downtown and back on time to meet my friend Alison for dinner. Everything in the middle would be decided on a stop-by-stop basis.

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I step out of the bus and into the bustle that is Seattle at the end of a work day and also Seattle on a sunny day. This meant people everywhere. And tourists, lots of tourists. Just general chaos.

I was overwhelmed by it all. Usually being downtown refuels me, but today I realized that amidst the crowds, recent family/friend reunions, work, and internship related gatherings, what I really needed was some time away from everything and everyone.

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With the revised goal in mind, I walked around the block to find a bus back to Capitol Hill so I could find some quiet in Volunteer Park. I waited by the bus stop along with a large group of people, 20 or so of them being a group of school kids not older than ten all dressed in a yellow uniform. Then Sol walked by. You know, the rapper from UW. The one who I saw at Bumpershoot two years ago and the one who's song I was just listening to on my iPod not ten minutes earlier. I didn't approach him even though I easily could have. He looked too content in his headphones, strolling down the street, for me to come up and disturb him. Now I'm a little regretful that I didn't.

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The 10 came by, its big green letters on the front told me it was going to take me to Capitoll Hill via 15th. Never taken this one before - why not? I step on to an almost full bus. Thankfully there was still one more empty row where I claimed my seat next to a window. Alright, now just a nice quiet ride out of downtown. That is, until the group of 20 schoolchildren also got on the bus. I couldn't help but laugh. You could see in the faces of the people on the bus that they were bracing themselves for a chattery trip.

The bus is great for many reasons: you don't have to park it, you don't have to fuel it, you don't have to drive it. The bus goes at the perfect speed for you to see the city. I could go on forever, but above all, the bus is where you will find one of the most eclectic mixes of humanity. The metro reminds me of who and where I am in relation to everyone else. It takes me out of the safe university bubble of UW and into the community that I call home.

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View of downtown from the tower at Volunteer Park.
I look at the people out on the sidewalks and at the faces of those on the bus, and at first, there is a wave of fear. There is fear because they are all strangers. I know nothing of them, and they nothing of me. But in the middle of my slight panic there also came a certain peace of mind. It was the sense that I didn't necessarily have to know someone personally to know that we were all more or less in the same boat (or bus) trying to get from one place to another..

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A place like here. 

Familiar places always feel new again every time I take this sort of trip. It's when I can cocoon myself in a familiar bus route or a quiet walk in the park and have some time alone. It's a chance to make sense of things, wipe the slate clean, and see old places in a new light.

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