you are riding my bus, while i’m riding your car
THE THIRD LAYER
When I was sitting inside the bus, no newspaper in my hand, no camera in my hand, no map in my hand, fully relying on the bus, following where it took me to, following the tempo, following the time flow, following everything, I started seeing something I can’t see when rushing everyday and squeezing time even on the bus in my week days. The status in others’ eyes would be I was idling.
I look around, seeing many people idling in the moving bus. Following their eyebeams, I could see there’s one layer. That’s the scene outside the bus: could be the splendid high buildings in mid town, the fast moving pedestrians, the laid back coffee drinkers sitting in the sun, the cool posters outside the fashion store, or the green lands for families, next to the river or in the central park.
The second layer is the window of the bus. This layer is not a liar. It’s really loyal to the real life: the first layer. It shows what they should be .
So far, everything is the same in different people’s eyes.
What appears as the third layer is posted on top of the bus window? That’s invisible to other people, but clear to me. I can see what others can’t. e.g. the high rise in Chicago, the shopping center in Beijing City, the Huangpu Bridge in Shanghai, the green land with families sitting on the beaches or making B.B.Q.s, close to the Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish in Kirkland and Redmond at Seattle. The Washington Height part recalled my memory in Beijing, as if I'm hearing the people bargaining the price for apples, oranges and onions. The several starbucks also made me think about those in Beijing, Chicago, Seattle, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Bloomington…
Same thing, she can see what I can’t see. So did he, she, he ,she… There are so many people idling on bus, looking at the first layer through the second layer, and they see their own world after filtering their third layer.
What if the third layer is physical, like a magic piece of glass, or some transparent stick-it, so that I could show others my third layer and they could see my third layer filtered world. Meanwhile, they could show me their own third layers.
IS NEW YORK REALLY UNIQUE? YES. IT’S UNIQUE BECAUSE IT’S SIMILAR TO THE MIXTURE OF SO MANY UNIQUE PLACES.
Yes, New York is amazing because it's unique. But from those several moments on the bus, from my third layer filter, I found something other than the uniqueness. That's the similarity. Among different cities in US, or even between cities and towns, or even between US and Asian countries, similarities are shared in many details. That similarities made the city so familiar to me, and full of memories and pre-experience, even I had no real experience here.
Yes, there’s only one Broadway in Manhattan, but I can see the similar advertisement , the same store, the same starbucks, and the same looking people taking the same dogs on Chang’an Ave in XiDan dist. in Beijing, on Maoming Rd in Shanghai, on Pike Ave and Pike Market in Seattle, on 8th st. in Bellevue.
I can’t help mapping different experience I had in different places in the world to this tiny bus trip view. The amazing things are: those views are matches regardless of where you are, as long as you are in the planet called earth. Also, you can match so many places to one place, even one trip in New York, that’s the cool thing also.
The trip was rich since I saw different neighbors from the colorful Houston avenue with various of stores along the road; to the aggressive mid town high rise buildings with huge advertisement boards, digital or in paper, using high technology with a large amount of information pushing towards people, coming and going, back and force; to central park, green and lovely, with the bicycle almost exactly the same in Beijing Hutong ( tiny street in cultural heritage area in Houhai); to the comfortable living area in the green lined road next to the water; to Washington Height, with island culture and their small groceries full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
LET’S BE IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME
Almost at the beginning of the back trip, I got a phone call from my boyfriend in Seattle 3 hours later than my east time in New York. They are far away from New York, not only in location, but also in time. But the time difference could be conquered by such kind of real time phone call or other communication tools, but we are still in different places, physically. I hate the feeling of physically separated, but…
What if he could know where I'm now. What if he could see the buildings I'm seeing now. What if he could hear the "noise" : car's ringing, seller's yelling “fresh Asian pears, crunchy, juicy, sweet…”, the driver's announcing the stops, the cell phone ringing from the fashionable young lady sitting behind, etc. what if he could feel the bus stops, and then starts moving again, slowly? Or fast? What if he could see what I'm seeing now, e.g. a family is B.B.Q. on the grass in the park, the dog is leading the guy running along the river…
The back trip was not that fresh. Same feeling happened when I had to take the same route 6 from fountain park apartment to my dept at indiana university every day. I started feeling boring by the constrained space and repeated scenes. Even though different pedestrians acting different plays each time I passed the same building with the same doorman on same road, next to the same store, I still feel not that fresh and good. I hate constrains.
Though I was physically in, my mind could be out. In fact, something could be brought in to enrich the experience and break the physical constrain, coz after all, the bus was mobile, so it was much better than being locked in the jail.
How about the trip my boyfriend was having? I wanted to be in that trip. He was driving on the I-90 highway towards downtown Seattle. I did want to see the green trees there, the boats on the Lake Washington. I also wanted to smell the Lake Washington, and smell the rainy soil since it was just rained.
Can we make the communication through the technology richer and make the world even smaller?
A FAMILIAR STRANGER: YOU ARE RIDING MY BUS, WHILE I’M RIDING YOUR CAR.
Even he is not my boyfriend, what if he is just a person doing the boring trip, trying to find what’s going on in New York Broadway? And I’m not her girlfriend, but a stranger randomly searching for some trip exchange in Seattle, coz I have never been there before. Then that would be cool. We could be familiar strangers, experiencing in his/her trip, while being in the other end.
That’s cool. Stick the transparent paper on to the bus window, I see what’s going on on his stick-it on his car running in Seattle I-90, I can also smell something Seattle. He is also happy to see everything in New York through my stick-it on M5 bus window. He is riding my bus, while I’m riding his car.