Lyrical Daydream on the Campus Shuttle

I step up into the corroded, metal vehicle. A mixed smell of heat and auto shop with occasional undertones of aftershave and perfume fill my nostrils. I sit down on one of the faux red leather seats. The chair begins to serve its painful purpose well, keeping me alert and well-aware of the bumps pulsating through my body. I look up and down the aisle at all the different faces who in turn give me surprised or embarrassed looks. I sway with the unpredictable movement and try not to accidentally invade my neighbor’s personal space. Wanting to escape these surroundings, I put in some white earphones. If I had my way right now, mirrored walls, hardwood floors, and chilled air would surround me. My clothing would be loose and comfortable. I would move to the rhythms putting me into a state of comatose and unawareness of my current situation. This uncomfortable environment suddenly doesn’t seem to exist. I’m transported to a shuffled world of lyrical descriptions of reality and imagination. The curtains of my thoughts pull back and an empty room appears. A dreamy, synthesized beat begins and my mind is filled with visions of frosty, atmospheric, neon colors surrounding me. If I had a pixilated fire flickering from a silver lighter, I would move it over my head while listening to this modern electronic love ballad. The only thing above my head right now is an arm awkwardly clinging on the metal bars extending the length of the bus for those not lucky enough to have a seat, no matter how rudimentary it is. A sleek Steinway grand piano appears with a single spotlight shining down on it. An older gentleman approaches the piano and starts to play a slow, romantic waltz. A younger man and woman appear in formal black attire and begin elegantly dancing around the piano. The tension and flow in the key changes and the crescendos create emotions between the dancers and for those watching. The man dips the woman gently as the last notes quietly fade out and I faintly hear the end of an overplayed song through the tinny speakers above me. Indistinct commercials for the latest product begin, but a sultry voice suddenly commands my attention and the piano accompanying it seduces me. I start to stretch in a studio filled with dark blue and plum light. The scent of summer roses and vanilla fills the room. A tall man with chiseled and dark features saunters through the doorway. From the dark corner, I can feel his scorching eyes watching me and I hear him breathing slowly as I reach out to my foot propped up on the ballet bar. As I come out of the stretch, I turn around to find that he has joined my side. I breathe in the musky scent of my partner while we slowly glide and twirl across the floor. The heated song slowly dies out, as does my fantasy, and I suddenly get a whiff of body odor from someone squeezing through the crowd to get to the opened door. I am irritated momentarily at morning light coming in through the door. A more welcomed glow now fills the room as an up-tempo piano with a consistent drum beat starts. The room slowly brightens as a low alto voice smoothly soars through the emotions of a newly-found love. I feel as if I’m going to burst out of my being with joy. The incandescent glow of the room is identical to the smile spreading across my face. The chorus echoes as the beat slows and I am once again blinded by obtrusive light coming in through the streaky windows. I look at a bizarrely- dressed woman a few seats down from me and wonder what will be in-style in thirty years from now. Then a soulful duet takes me back a few decades to Motown. A man and woman effortlessly belt out powerful, yet simple phrases in response to each other’s longing to be with one another. The words remind me of someone I wish was here with me. The words of Wang Chien flash across my mind; “Oh, that I could shrink the surface of the world, so that suddenly I might find you standing at my side!” Or in my case, sitting by my side. Like the man sings out, the letters and phone calls are just “nothing like the real thing.” I expectantly look across the aisle, longing to see those warm golden brown eyes looking back at me. I smile shyly, wanting to see that brilliant, perfect smile reciprocated. Instead, I am eventually met with a slight smile and shifting eyes, which then look down at a cell phone to read an imaginary text message. As the voices die out with the percussive beats accented by a tambourine, the man and woman’s memorable lines run through my mind. In the background, I hear the final ear-splitting shrill of the shuttle stopping. The time for pleasant thoughts and reflection is over. I reluctantly take out the white headphones and re-enter the uncomfortable world of strangers. I no longer gracefully dance through the scenes of my mind, but clumsily walk down the steps onto a harsh sidewalk, taking me back to reality.

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