A brief shuttle anatomy lesson is required for today’s How I Decide Where to Sit. The shuttle is comprised of, um, many rows with four seats per row, two on either side of the center aisle. The very last row goes straight across the back of the bus, ending abruptly at the wheelchair-accessible ramp machinery.
I call the last row the rumble seat because it is as close as you can get to roughing it while still being inside the shuttle. The seats are bench-like and unforgiving, and they magnify each bump the shuttle hits at any speed. Also, if you are close to the machinery, you will get shoved into its pointy bits at some point.
I dislike the rumble seat so much that I buck the standard rule set, which is:
- Sit in empty row.
- Sit in rumble seat.
- Sit next to someone.
- Stand in aisle.
My rule set transposes 2 and 3. The rumble seat is still preferable to aisle-standing, of course. I’m no fool.
Today I took the early shuttle and got the last empty row, so I was able to witness the rule set in action when someone boarded after me. He started for the rumble seat, but veered off to sit next to someone in the second-to-last row instead. He sat like me! I always appreciate moments of similarity with a stranger, probably because I spent so much of my younger days feeling like a freak.
The rest of the way to work I reminisced about my summer abroad at the end of high school. My mom enrolled me in this summer program at Cambridge, which was ostensibly for smart kids who enjoyed studying so much they wanted to do it over summer break. I met some smart kids there, but mostly I met kids who were much more interesting and connected and dangerous than I was. I felt doubly alienated.
Halfway through the program, I met A, who worked at my college. He was a few years older, and didn’t really socialize with his peer group, either. We ended up spending quite a bit of time together, and were sweet on each other, although to my recollection nothing really happened romantically. I had met a kindred spirit, and we spent hours matching up experiences in our pasts, thrilled that we had each found someone like us.
We kept in touch after I went back to the States, and a few months later, A decided to visit me. When he arrived, he immediately fell for an acquaintance of mine, a petite woman with a lovely brogue who didn’t have much use for me after that. They disappeared into their love-haze, and I was heartbroken, not that A was someone else’s, but that we were no longer the same.
Today I thought of the sweater A gave me — how he made fun of me calling it a “sweater” instead of a pullover — and how later I had lent it to another friend of mine, who promptly lost it. At the time, I didn’t care, because I was angry. Now I would like to see it again and remember that lazy day on the banks of the Cam with a friend I thought I’d know forever.
HIDWtS Rating: Nostalgic.
Photo credit: Aurelien Guichard