This morning I pointed out a bus to Gresham. It was met with a chorus of “Let’s go!” “I’ve never been to Gresham before!” I let them know how long the bus ride would be, that Gresham was a smaller town than Portland and there wasn’t as much to do there, and as the bus rolled up we had about twenty seconds to make a decision. “You want to go?” I asked. “Yeah sure!”
And so we hopped on a 45 minutes bus ride.
Someone once told me that they made a conscious decision to stop driving and start using public transportation because you see a lot more of the world from a bus. In a car you are detached from what’s going on, isolated, not really surrounded by the culture or experiencing the city, the world flying by, private, outside of you. You can drive through a city and, especially if you aren’t looking out the window, miss much of the culture of the city. On a bus the culture is sitting with you. People hop off and on from different walks of life, some want to engage and talk (especially when kids are around), and some want to put on headphones and be lost in their own world. The bus does not take the most efficient route, but the one that runs through the most neighborhoods possible on the way to its destination.
As we rode, the young people chatted, laughed, looked out the window, read a blog post from the Brooklyn Flying Squad about their prank of pretending to get tattoos, spoke with people who came on the bus, and enjoyed the long ride with simply one another’s company and the world around them as entertainment.
We couldn’t easily find central Gresham, and they didn’t seem too interested in trying. After about 1 hour of walking around and spending some time eating our lunch, they were ready for the ride back.
The ride back was much the same, except that it felt a bit longer. They spent time drawing together, making up stories, and had a conversation with a woman who brought her dog on to the bus with her. We saw more people from more walks of life, and felt the changing neighbors between Gresham and Portland.
We got off and found a place to eat the rest of our lunch. Absolutely no one regretted the long bus ride to a far off town with little to do. They all seemed to enjoy the time to just be together, pause, and see what was happening between Portland and Gresham.
These moments of pause and time to just be with one another, experiencing the city as it rolls in and out around us, feel few and far between in the days of constant entertainment, technology, and devices. Time without these distractions, time moving around in the world outside of a car, gives us time to muse, to think about our city, to day dream. It gives us time to pause and reflect, or just be.