There is something very heartbreaking about looking at a foreign landscape through a dirty bus window and hearing Carole King ask “doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?” Anybody is me. I am the anybody who doesn’t stay in one place.
I remember those heartbreaking bus rides perfectly. I remember the feeling of relief when I secured the window seat. I remember using my sweater as a pillow, and my journal on my lap, and the slashes of pen markings every time we went over a particularly bumpy bit of road.
Memories, reflections, footsteps, echoes: these are the sorts of things I think about on long bus journeys.
The most astonishing thing about long bus rides is that the roads stretch on and on and so does the future. It’s the immensity of the road that both thrills and terrifies me. When does it end? Does it ever? It’s so long and so endless that I forget where I’ve come from and I forget where I’m heading.
Mountains, deserts, and stretches of rice fields blur in the backdrop and there I am, gazing out the window, thinking about home.
Scenery changes, passengers leave, the sun goes down. But I am still seated by the bug-smeared window, still going somewhere, still searching for something. ‘I sure hope the road don’t come to own me’. I find myself half-wishing to jump off the bus but it is too late for that; the wheels have started moving again.
Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? I don’t think so. Nobody stays in one place because nobody can stand the thought of being still. We get bored easily, we move on quickly, we hurriedly push ourselves forward in pursuit of something better, bigger, brighter.
There is no right way to live, of course. There is nothing wrong with being stagnant just like there is nothing wrong with being constantly on the move. We are all trudging along our own little paths, searching for our own little truths, finding fulfilment in our own little ways. The problem is that the past always seems rosier than it really was and the future always seems more golden than it will ever be and so the present seems glum and dim in comparison.
Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? No, and I don’t either. I live a torn existence – perched somewhere between an attachment to the past and a longing for the future – searching for whatever bit of happiness I’m promised on the other side of a bus window and hoping I don’t miss my stop.