I used to have a great fear of being in social situations where everyone there knew everyone else, but I didn't know anybody. I forget the number of events I didn't go to to avoid this circumstance, and I also forget exactly when I started to find the experience strangely enjoyable. Probably when I began noticing there was usually someone who recognized me from bus-land, or art-world, or both. It's a little scary, going alone, but you're free to roam about as you wish, without strings, engaging as much or as little as you please; if the folks present are friendly, then all the better.
In 2012 I was invited to just such an event– an art show featuring work by the boyfriend of a passenger. Virginia was a grad student and regular rider on the 4 whom I'd driven home for– months? Years? I can't quite recall. Long enough for our brief interactions to slowly build into friendship, a point of connection of which was that her boyfriend, also named Nathan (or Nate, to be precise, don't wanna step on any toes here), was also a photographer like myself.
This blog exists because I chose to go to Nate's photography event at Theo Chocolate in 2012. It exists because Virginia was kind enough to extend the invite, and because I was able to get over my mild nervousness about going to an event where I would barely know anyone. It exists most potently because of a long conversation I got into with the three delightful ladies pictured above. One is a photographer; another with a background in medicine; the third owns an interior design company.
I had come directly from work (there I am in my little Metro cardigan!), and after discussing bus-land they broached the idea of a blog. I stood there and tried to come up with excuses to justify not doing so. It sounds like a lot of work. It involves large amounts of time documenting life instead of living it. It means sitting in front of computers too much, which I don't like. The moments with the passengers are private and special and writing about them would dilute their power. No one's going to be interested because the events are positive. The events are too small– things like eye contact or fistbumps can't be interesting as focal points for stories… or can they?
How great that they correctly called me out for being lazy and making a bunch of lame excuses. Just try it, they said, brightly. People love stories. The conversation was valuable enough that I became late for where I was going afterwards– something friends will know I'm loathe to do– but it was so worth it. This whole enterprise might not exist otherwise. "You need to write about these stories," the ladies insisted. "You need to share them. People need to hear them, and they'll love them."
Even before the blog existed I would write little notes on transfers, in a journal, on napkins, strictly so I could remember the moments for myself. The first time I ever did so was when a teenage boy got off my (now defunct) 253 at Bellevue Transit Center. He was a Pacific Northwest teenager, with oversized button-up plaid and skater shoes, and he thanked me with enthusiastic presence before removing his BMX bicycle.
You knew he'd never seen a driver near his age before (I was just twenty-one at the time), and likely hadn't run into one with my put-all-of-yourself-out-there approach. I forget his exact words all these years later, but I can still see his attitude. In his keen ardor you felt the rising spirit of new possibilities, the beat of new horizons. Kids know how big the world can be. You can conflate coolness and kindness, high functioning and inclusiveness. He wheeled back and forth across the street, not ready to leave my sight, too excited by the new understandings forming in his head; insights on a summer afternoon, new ways we as young people can be. I was as energized by his unconcealed verve as he was by me. He waited til the light turned green, and I started to drive out.
Me, tossing an upward nod his way, big wave, and he's grinning wide as he returns the gesture. Our generation.
These are the little births I treasure. I hope you enjoy reading them.