When the sun sets, ordinary colors blur into something special. The nighttime buses in motion just outside my window pass by in bright dreamy lights.
Where are the blurry bus riders going? Where are they arriving from? Are they returning from a hard day at the office or dashing off to meet friends? Are the nocturnal travelers making their way to catch late-night flights at the airport nearby, starting an exciting adventure or going to visit someone special? Are there passengers making their way to the Arrival Hall to welcome family or friends? Just last week, I woke before the sun came up. In a groggy state of mind, I made my way to the bus stop. Sitting on the bench waiting for the bus, I soaked in the calm and quiet of the world at that hour. With barely any traffic, the only prominent sound was the soft rhythm of a runner jogging by. I happily boarded the arriving bus with a nice mixture of peace, anticipation, and joy. I was traveling to the airport to welcome my son, Nathan, to Hong Kong!
A nighttime bus slows to a stop. A man in a suit with a shoulder bag steps down heavily to the curb. He had a long hard day at the office. Phone calls and emails rolling in one after another. Questions requiring answers, problems needing solutions. Sighing he steps onto the sidewalk. The deep frown painted on his face for most of the day, relaxes a bit, moving towards a look of contentment. He is ever closer to his home where he can kick off his shoes at the door, peel off his bag, turn off his phone, take off his tie, and relax.
As the man in the suit exits the bus, four lively passengers board. They sit in the section where two seats face two other seats. Talking animatedly and laughing, they make the five-minute trip to one of the many restaurants along the waterfront at the plaza. The normal dinner hour is late as most people work hard and their day is long. At the plaza, more friends will meet them for a relaxing meal together and a stroll along the beach afterward to unwind.
A family of four board the nighttime airport bus with backpacks and carry-on suitcases. Though the hour is late, the family wear bright smiles on their faces in eager anticipation of their adventure getting underway. It’s October and the air feels cool. The family is headed for warmer beachy weather. They don’t need to carry much. Light clothes, bathing suits, a towel or two, snorkel gear, flip-flops, and sunscreen. As the door closes, the children climb eagerly into their seats. The parents mentally walk through their final checks, making sure passports and all essentials have made their way onto the bus. Once it’s done, they settle in. The father dreams of snorkel time with his son. The son hopes to see a shark. The mother dreams of lying on the beach with the book she’s been meaning to read. The daughter dreams of building castles in the sand. They all dream of happy moments that will be remembered for years to come.
A young family wearily disembarks the bus to the curb. The mother carries a sleeping child, cradled in her arms, as the father carefully maneuvers a double stroller off the bus. The stroller carries another little child sleeping snuggly within. The family had a fun but exhausting day at Disney located nearby. A metallic Mickey Mouse balloon tied to the stroller bobs and blows in the night breeze as they slowly make their way home. After they tuck the children into bed, the couple sits together on the couch, laughing and reminiscing about the day as they scroll through the photos on their phones. More wonderful memories have been created!
An older couple frantically run up the street, as the airport bus has arrived earlier than they anticipated. Waving their arms in the air, the driver waits. They are weighed down. It takes a mammoth effort to wrestle their overloaded bags into the bowels of the airport bus. Sighing in relief, they momentarily step back from the luggage now lying inside and shake the blood back into their numb arms and hands. The dash to the bus, dragging their heavy bags, was arduous. Mounting the steps, they disappear into the bus. Sinking in their seats, feelings of relief and anticipation wash over them.
They are from Canada but have lived away from their home country for twenty plus years. Living in several Asian locations, their lives have been interesting and meaningful. However, they are ready to return to the place where family and long-time friends reside. Where food is home and the people speak their heart language. They have feelings of trepidation as well. Visiting every other year at Christmas is one thing, moving back permanently is another.
Have they been gone too long?
Have they changed too much to fit back in?
Will there be room in the hearts and time in the schedule, of those they left so many years ago, to graft them back in?
After all, life moves forward and people change. Living outside their home country, they have felt the sting of never fully fitting in. Returning to the place of their birth, will they continue to be on the outside looking in at people with their own inside jokes and memories made while they were away? These questions and worries mix together with a sense of excitement at returning. Leaving their home country required courage, returning to the place of their birth and childhood will too. Whichever it may be, they are on their way to the reunion that waits for them on the other side of the ocean.
These stories are fiction, mostly. With a bit of me mixed in. People-watching for a school assignment, from my perch on the windowsill of my fourth floor flat, I witnessed these activities at the bus stop. Then the stories took flight from there.
Life moves forward sometimes in a blur. For good or for bad, we have no choice but to move forward with it. However, I have found that overall, whether exciting or challenging, there are wonderful adventures to be had, even into the unknown. We simply need to board the bus!