A liminal space. Wait, that’s too fancy. Ok, a place to wait for the bus. But that’s not it entirely. See, it’s a place between destinations where things can happen. Because you AREN’T for once in the process of going; you’re waiting to go, and so you’re not resting exactly with your feet up in the fancy hotel room that you got in this Pacific Northwest city because you dilly-dallied about registering for a writing conference until it was too late to get into the cheap hotels. Although let’s face it, you despise cheap hotels, and love fancy ones.
Anyway, you’re at the bus stop and not exactly going and not exactly there, which is what I mean by “liminal” but you’re waiting for the bus, and the best part is you’re waiting with her.
She and you are really just recently becoming friends, and there’s that tension — no, not tension tentativeness, I guess I want to say — there’s a certain hesitance about how much to share and how much to say and how to say it because you and she are pretty different, not just in terms of worldview but in terms of age and outlook and experience and sex. But you like her so much, the way you like people who are different in ways that matter, different in ways that are electric and interesting rather than intimidating and/depressing. A person with whom you can feel yourself becoming different and you wonder who that different person is. Will be. Can be. Yeah. Those friends are magic. So you stand and wait with her because she’s going to stay with friends and not at a fancy hotel.
A bus comes but it’s not hers.
You talk about how tired you both are. You talk about being introverts who pretend to be extroverts. You talk about the layers of past selves (her term). And then somehow the conversation runs down. Something intimate has been shared, and now you’re both even tireder.
Two more buses come. Nope. Neither are for her.
“You don’t have to wait any more,” she tells you.
But what she doesn’t know because you don’t think to tell her because you have forgotten til now — til this act of writing– is:
How much you love waiting with women at bus stops. How there’s a whole history of it — a genealogy (history of family ) in waiting at bus stops. How you waited with your mother for the 3rd avenue and Madison Avenue buses, and she put you on a bus or you put her on, and you’d both wave until the bus slithered away into the darkness. How you waved at friends from high school and friends from college on buses. How your pairs of hands exchanged energies — a farewell that was also an arrival vibrating through the glass.
She says “really you don’t have to wait,” and you decide to get funny. You say “‘l”ll text our friend J and pretend you aren’t even here,” and she laughs just a little bit and you take out the phone, and it helps, because now she can be quiet and take a break from this conversation. You turn back to her and you talk about the weather and her hat. “I like it — did you make it?” “God no.” The hat is purple. It suits her. The bus comes, and you embrace. “I love you,” you both say, and it’s suddenly super-true. She gets on. You start to turn away, turn back. You watch her get on the bus, and you start waving. She doesn’t see you, but it feels so good to do it, you keep on despite the bemused look of hipsters and youthful onlookers. You watch her sit down and put her head down — alone at last, she’s thinking perhaps. You wave at her as the bus slithers away into darkness.
Then you walk down the street to meet your friend J — another woman who is so different from either of you and her friend D, who is different in a different way. You walk towards them — the cold slap of pavement under your feet. Buses pass. You walk. You think about departures. Arrivals. And all the infinitesimal movements that matter from within what looks like — but isn’t just — liminal space.