I was at the bus stop, buds tuned into Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Draw any clichés you want from that, but it stands as a phenomenal album. Having not listened for at least 6 months, it enveloped me in memories. I was pulled back to Kool Haus in January 2014. A full body sensation of wonder and transcendent bliss experiencing a band I never thought I’d have the chance to witness. While my body waited for the bus to arrive, my mind was projected into the past, miles from my corporeal form. My eyes registered movement and traced it to the lips of a fellow bus stop resident. I stared, transfixed for 5 or so seconds before I realised she was talking. My mind met my body and I jolted to a start. I pulled my earbuds out and apologised, admitted I hadn’t been listening.
“Oh” the woman remarked “I just saw a limo drive past and thought that’s the life.” I chuckled and agreed, expecting the conversation to subside, to crawl back into my aural embrace. “It used to be, you know?” I turned my head once more and looked her in the eyes. Eyebrows raised, head tilted I mustered a bemused “oh?” I searched her eyes for mirth, but none was forthcoming. Who is this woman? Who was this woman? Is this a façade? Does she just like conversation? Is she lonely? There’s more here.
“We used to have a monthly account just for limousines. When we reached the city, neither of us liked driving. Traffic was too much, too stressful. We’d just funnel it into a specific account and pay it off monthly.” I smiled. “That’s a fair chunk of change. How’d you guys afford it?” She responded “he started a software company and it just made sense at the time.” I nodded. “That’d be the life. Instead of ordering an Uber X you’d get an Uber XXL?” As if she didn’t hear, she continued looking straight ahead “if we wanted to go shopping, pick up the kids. It was so easy. Things were so much easier.” My brows furrowed and I inquired “I’m sorry, but you’re speaking in past tense. What happened?”
She looked me in the eyes. “He doesn’t live here any more. They live in Montreal. He… he wasn’t a nice man. No he wasn’t.” My eyes narrowed, unsure of how to proceed. “Once again, past tense, right? Lessons hopefully learned?” She turned her head away, cast her eyes down “sure. Maybe.” She looked back to me, smile on her face, pointed down at her legs. “Fishnets, vocational necessity.” She laughed. “I’m going to Burlington today. This should be fun. It’s nice to get away, isn’t it?” I smiled back. The sight of the bus approaching startled us into action. She smirked. “The bus. It’s no limo.” Reaching into her pocket she fished around “oh God, is there a hole in my pocket? I can’t seem to find my change. You think the driver will accept mints as currency?” Reaching into her other pocket she fished out a few coins. “Guess this is how it goes now.” She walked onto the bus and out of sight.
Certainly not out of mind.