I'm sure many of us have experienced some odd exchanges with other people on public transportation, whether it's a street car, light rail, or bus. Lemme tell ya--some weird shit happens on buses. But also some pretty great stuff happens on buses, like meet-cutes. And because I promised you all yet another meet-cute story, here it is:
I ride the bus every day for work. And about a month and a half ago, I started to notice a cute, bearded blonde guy who also always took the same bus. I decided not to think too much about it. I wouldn't want to date or even crush someone I have to see on a regular basis given the likelihood that it doesn't work out. (Because that would be the most uncomfortable thing ever.)
Then, one day this guy sat next to me. No smile or conversation, we simply sat with our shoulders brushing as we read our individual books. The next time I saw him, he sat by me again.
This continued for another few weeks, before I finally broke the silence. I noticed he was carrying a different book than before, so I opted for something simple, elegant, casual.
"Fiction or nonfiction?"
"Nonfiction," he laughed. "It's written by this author who travels from country to country learning what each country's definition of happiness is."
"So what country are you on now?" I replied.
"Well, I just finished Switzerland."
"That's supposed to be the happiest place to live on earth, isn't it?" I speculated.
"It is," he agreed. "But the writer found that citizens of Switzerland are more blissful than they are happy. When he looks at poorer countries, he's actually found more happiness and less bliss."
"So is financial security the root of bliss and the antithesis of happiness?"
"I don't know!" he laughed. "He didn't draw much of a conclusion."
Gradually, we settled into a comfortable silence. When we got off the bus, he waited and walked with me up to the corner intersection rather than jaywalking across the street as he usually does. (An almost imperceptible change in behavior that only I would notice.)
I waited eagerly for the next time I'd run into this boy on the bus. My friends all agreed that he seemed adorable and smart. Well-read and talkative--totally my type.
It was about another week before our paths crossed again. This time, he greeted me very openly.
"Hey, how are you?" he smiled as he settled into his (now) assigned seat beside me.
"I'm really good. How are you?"
"What country are you on now?" I asked, gesturing to his book, which he held with his finger holding his place as if he'd been reading as he waited for the bus.
"Iceland," he replied.
"And what is their definition of happiness?"
"I'm honestly not sure yet!" he smiled. "I just started this chapter. I'm still on the first page." He paused. "I'm having a hard time getting through this book," he confessed. "You're probably already finished with your book," he speculated, looking at my empty hands for my copy of Zadie Smith's Swing Time.
"No such luck, I'm afraid. I'm having a hard time getting motivated actually," I shrugged.
Before we experienced an elongated lapse in our conversation, I seized the opportunity to introduce myself.
"I'm Halle by the way," I declared, with a tiny, if not awkward wave of my hand.
"Erin," he half-waved back.
We continued to talk about our basic backgrounds: where we grew up, our colleges, our current jobs, all that get-to-know you stuff. As our stop came up, Erin again waited for me to get off the bus and walked with me to the intersection.
Now, my friends and I had prepared for this scenario over the past week. I wasn't about to wait another week without being able to contact this adorable guy. I really wanted to grab a drink with him sometime over the weekend, so I started to build the conversation in that direction.
"Ugh, it's only Wednesday," I complained. "It feels like it should be Friday."
"Yeah," he agreed.
Here was my opening. I took a breath.
But then Erin continued.
"My girlfriend moved to Dallas for dental school last week, so I don't really know what to do with my time yet."
Completely shut down.
Of course, I tried to keep the conversation going and play it off as if everything was cool and like he hadn't just shattered my fantasy of our future lives together. Everything was fine. I was cool.
Post note: We still run into each other on the bus and Erin still sits by me whenever we're both taking it at the same time. I guess you could say we're friends now, which is more or less a first for me--so that's something.