Sunday, March 20, 2016

BUS STORY # 489 (She Lives In A World Of Her Own)

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The big bright blue hard plastic case is impossible to miss. It’s being embraced by a young woman sitting on the aisle-facing bench seat behind the driver. I’m sitting across the aisle and two seats over from her.

It has to be a cello. She straddles the case and has her hands wrapped around the neck, just before it swells into the body of the case.

She’s not a pretty girl. Still, there is something about her, something quietly different, something self-contained, that compels me to keep looking. Perhaps I’m seeing a very young woman (I note the spray of acne across her right cheek) who already knows she was born to play the cello.

There is something of the geek about her. Her hair, for example, is neat and clean, but style-less. Black hair with curls that are not the homogenous creation of the beauty shop or rollers and a hair dryer. Hair that defines gender then gets out of the way.

She’s wearing a blue tunic with a kind of Greek embroidery pattern in white print. Over that is a tan and white striped sweater. Black pants. Sandals whose soles can’t be seen, with blue and green strings for straps. They look either homemade or jerry-rigged.

She sometimes smiles to herself. I can’t help wishing I knew what she was seeing that makes her smile so.

Sometimes she just closes her eyes. Once, I see her moving her lips. I think she might be praying. I see her head bowed slightly, her hands clasped around the cello case, and I wonder if she’s praying to God or the cello.

We pull up to a stop where a mom with a stroller and a small child are waiting. I get up and move back a couple of rows. Mom takes my seat across from the cellist. The kid looks four or five, and he’s got a new, brightly colored plastic toy. The cellist leans forward and asks him about his toy. He’s excited to tell her all about it. They talk, and she smiles with genuine pleasure. She is at home in this child’s world.

We get off at the same stop. She exits the front, I the back. I look back once and watch her move up the sidewalk with her big blue cello case. She moves like someone who knows who she is, and what she’s about. Like someone who knows she can make that cello sound the music of the spheres.


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