Sunday, April 24, 2016

BUS STORY # 494 (Portrait # 33: Soap Opera)

Downloaded from soap opera

I watched this story unfold when I was still working and taking the same bus at the same time every work morning. I retired before I saw any resolution. I still think about these two folks, though, and wonder about the story I didn’t get.

I really don’t remember which of them I saw first. Sometimes he’s on the bus, and she’s not. And vice versa. And I know of at least one time they didn’t sit together when they were both on the bus.

They are both good looking, and I remember being aware of them individually before I began thinking of them as a couple.

He has a lean, ascetic look that makes him seem taller than he really is. Salt and pepper hair, just long enough not to be short. His glasses aren’t stylish -- lots of glass, little frame -- but they complement his usually impassively serious face. He wears jeans, sometimes blue, sometimes black, always neatly pressed, which reinforces my sense of an underlying fastidiousness. I can’t get a fix on his age -- he could be anywhere from mid-40s to early 50s. Whatever his age, he looks good.

Where he’s angular and lean, she’s soft and round. And where his face reflects a fine-boned Spanish-Navajo heritage, hers reflects the dominance of the Aztec. Prominent cheeks and jaw, strong nose. Large dark eyes. Lustrous black hair worn straight and falling just short of her shoulders. I’d put her in her mid-40s. She usually dresses in black -- black jackets and coats, black pants or long black skirts, opaque black stockings and black, serious shoes. Sometimes with a splash of color from a silky blue or maroon blouse. She looks good.

She boards farther down the route than he, and when the aisle seat next to him is empty, which it is most of the time, and which by now I’ve concluded is meant as an invitation, she goes to sit by him. That’s the only time I see him smile, and I take it for a giveaway.

They talk very quietly and, I think, gently. They don’t often look at one another when they talk -- she will look directly at him more often than he will at her -- but you can see the attentiveness in the way both incline their heads. They sometimes gesture when they talk, but they keep those gestures economical and tidily confined.

The time I saw them not sit together, she had boarded with a small suitcase on wheels. There wasn’t room in the seat, so she took a bench seat facing the back door and parked the bag in front of her. He stayed in his seat. I remember thinking there was room for him if he wanted to sit next to her, but there was also another guy sitting at the other end of the three-seater. I don’t know if it was our Albuquerque tendency to try and leave an empty seat between strangers, or a reluctance to have a conversation that might be overheard, that caused him to stay put. Or, depending on what story might be concocted from what we have here, some other reason entirely.

But just before her stop -- she gets off before he does -- she stood up and went over to his seat, leaned over a bit, and said something to him. He smiled, as if pleased to have heard what he heard, shook his head yes, got up, and went over to where her suitcase was sitting. At the stop, she exited, and he carried her suitcase out to the sidewalk for her. A thank you and smiles were exchanged, and he got back on the bus and took his seat.

That was a more effusive parting than normal. I never see any long, lingering looks when she gets to her stop. What I do see is a normal, have-a-good-day kind of exchange, and that’s that. She heads north and doesn’t look back, and he doesn’t watch her go.

He gets off at the next stop and heads south.

I really have no idea what the story is here. For all I know, they could be family, or old friends who used to work together, or just a muy simpático pair of co-riders.

Or already married to others. (Yes, of course I’ve looked for a ring on the left ring finger. Nothing on either one. Which, I know, doesn’t prove anything.)

Whatever the story is, it’s a lot like watching a soap opera: the story unfolds very, very slowly.

Just one more reason to keep me riding.


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