Sleeping on the Bus

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In the spirit of January being the unofficial “I really miss drum corps” month, here’s what I miss the most about tour:

Sleeping on the bus.

Sleeping on the stupid, too hot, too cold, too cluttered, too cramped bus.

Clambering on the bus after a long, long show day, animated and boisterous and hollering, electrified by the rare coolness of the nighttime air and the shocking blackness of the absence of light.

Revving off into the night, the highways mysterious, shadowy, unseen.

Talking loudly to your neighbors, talking loudly about nothing.  Then talking just to say things, but talking softer and softer, farther and farther away.

Fazing out.  Leaning back into your seat, pulling your knees to your chest, swaddling in your blanket.  Listening to the other’s talking become less and less, drifiting away.

There’s that strange window in time where all you hear is the rising and falling of engine humming.  The small hiss of air conditioning.  Snippets of words and static from the radio.

That’s the safest time.  Curled up together, in this weird little wheeled rectangle, hurtling off to god knows where.  Petty details like location just don’t matter right now, because when you’re fading off, you don’t need to think about tomorrow.

The bus lulls you to sleep, the bumps under the wheels, the gentle side to side fluctuations as familiar as the beating of the heart under your ribs, so familiar that you feel it rocking you months later as you nod off in class, as you lie three-quarters asleep in your own bed.

You fade off, and everything that troubled you that day, every tear you cried, every hurt you swallowed, becomes past.

You fade off, and you remember how lucky you are to fall asleep surrounded by the people, even the ones with whom you clashed during the daytime, that you have come to love in a way you cannot unlove.  You can’t see them all in the dark, but you snuggle against the floor, the seat in the warmth of their presence.

You fade off, cramps in your legs, the grainy floor beneath your cheek, your beaten body shutting down to ensure you’ll survive the shenanigans of the new day.

You are so stupid, so ludicrous, so passionate–

But you are not alone.  Not on this bus, not on this night, not ever again.

And you know this in your heart, but unconscious as you are, slumped against your seat partner, sprawled across the floor, you think of it no more, as you sleep and the hours escape you and the bus rolls on.

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