The bus does its usual staccato journey down Fourth Avenue, lurching to a halt every three blocks to acquire and release various passengers. With each stop, a hurried game of musical chairs ensues, urgent dashes as suspected seat vacancies are confirmed, riders shifting to bask in the late afternoon sun that soaks the western side of the bus or to escape the same brightness, sideways riders seeking a seat facing forward, others adjusting their proximity to the overripe aroma of one stranger or the disconcerting mumbles of another.
These bursts of activity must be completed in the short span of deboarding so that the coveted window seat that appeared from the sidewalk will prove to have been an illusion once the new rider mounts the bus stairs to find passengers settled into the best seats as if they had always occupied them. Sometimes, a single move isn’t enough, a person relocating several times in an effort to find a satisfying spot for the journey home—after all, life is a journey, not a destination, and the metaphor applies to this trip as well, crowded and hot and on a schedule not of our choosing. Happiness is finding a seat with reasonable people around us, a view of where we’re going, and a bit of room to breathe.