Today's NaBloPoMo prompt is, "What is your favourite place to read?" (Yes, it's spelled the British way.) I had to think about this, because lately I grab my time to read in short bursts. I read before I fall asleep at night. Sometimes, I read on my lunch break, so the place would be the break room. Neither of these are my favorite, but are rather the places I read out of necessity. I'd love to say that I read in the park, and provide both a poetic description and sunlit, green photos of that park, but it doesn't exist. I can't recall the last time I read in a park. Unless the Park Blocks at PSU count. And then usually I decide it's quiet and less filled with panhandlers to just go inside the Student Union Building.
My favorite place, at least for now, to grab a few minutes to read a few pages in between tasks and places, is the bus.
For the first three months of my job, I drove. It didn't occur to me to take the bus, because the only bus stops near work, of which I was aware, were for lines that don't run within a mile of my house, or they were on the other side of a highway that would be treacherous, if not impossible, to cross.
Then my car started stalling. First, it stalled downtown, near campus, when I was trying to find a parking spot. I kept driving it. My worst nightmare, I told everyone, was that it would stall on the upper level of the Marquam Bridge in Friday rush hour, in the traffic backup where people are entering the freeway from I-84 at the same time other people are trying to exit I-5 for I-84. And then someone would rear-end my car and it would go flying over the guard rail and into the Willamette River.
And then all of that happened, except the car accident. It stalled on that bridge, in that spot in rush hour traffic. The only certified place I could take it was in Beaverton. So, for about a week, I went without my car. I borrowed Handsome Man's a few times, and I also learned how to take the bus.
I'd taken TriMet plenty of times, and often found it a hassle. But not anymore. It turns out there it a stop only a few blocks from where I work, on a line that stops only a few blocks from home. I have to leave my house half an hour earlier than I would if I drove, and I get home as much as an hour later than I would if I drove, but to not have to concentrate on traffic and to be able to read, it's worth it.
I read, this weekend, in She Just Walks Around With It, the following:
I started my own, totally independent work life and public-transit commute in a city that was no longer a strange place to me. I can't even begin to express how oddly validating of my new life it was to take a city bus to get to work.
I had been thinking that for a few months now, but not until I read that did I realize this was something people thought. As she notes in the same post, people say that it takes two years of living in a place for it to feel settled, for the place to feel more like where you live and less unfamiliar. I've heard that a few times in the last year. Now that I am barely past my two-year mark, I can say that it is also true for me. And it was around that time that I started taking that city bus.
I used to malign your twenty minutes between buses, and your lack of north-south lines on the East side, but TriMet, I was wrong. You and I belong together. You take me to work and you take me home. Even on days that maybe aren't your best, you provide me with stories to tell. (I'm talking about crazy drivers and crazier passengers. Did I ever tell you about the time I saw some kids lighting stuff on fire on the back of an 8 bus? And the busdriver didn't even bat an eye?) Best of all, TriMet, thanks to you I can finally read. I am getting caught on magazines that I've had since 2009. I actually read more than just the cover of my library books now. I get to use my Nook. Now that school is over, I may become so caught up on my Newsweeks that I read them during the actual week that they are mailed to my house!
Thank you, TriMet.