The girl in the overall shorts

Today I was surrounded by noise. This morning – a meeting. This afternoon – the cacophony of a noisy restaurant for an end of year Christmas lunch. The lunch was nice, the conversations were pleasant. But today I will remember the girl in the overall shorts.

I saw her from the bus window as I headed home. She was beautiful – even though I couldn’t see her face. Her dark hair glistened with red highlights under her hat. She had a backpack, sturdy shoes with rugged socks and overall shorts with no shirt underneath. She was laughing with her friends – head thrown back. So young, so slender.

In that moment – I would have traded all that I am to be her. All my education. All my knowledge and wisdom and technical expertise and life skills. To be that 20 something girl. Only burdened by a backpack. Surrounded by friends who were equally lightly burdened.

The bus rolled on. Around me were the unmistakable sounds of a Friday afternoon on a bus. People laugh more loudly, talk more frenetically. They banter and flirt and advise and smile and laugh more on a Friday afternoon bus as they roll towards loving homes, friends, family and plans made.

I leaned on my elbow and looked out the window. The afternoon sun was warm. The bus shuddered around me, a living thing, taking me home as it had taken me to work just hours before. People on the street were carrying Christmas packages, smiling and laughing in the warmth of an early summer afternoon. We moved from urban streets into traffic, streaming past and the people on the bus kept up a buzz of conversation – so different from the nearly somnabulent morning crowd. An almost aggressive cheerfulness pressed against me. I was so relieved that on the last stop before mine that no one felt the need to sit next to me. I had my safety bubble around me.

If one person had spoken kindly to me, I would have cried. Thinking about going home to my lonely flat. Where once I thrilled to Friday nights, a kiss from my Paul and a weekend of plans – tonight, like most others, would be quiet.

I am sad that quiet is what I’ve gotten used to. That the noise in the yellow and white restaurant by the sea was so overwhelming to me that I had to go outside for a little while. That the chatter on the bus assailed my ears. That this soft, dark, funereal quiet of my lonely flat has become the norm for me.

Most of all – I am sad that I cannot be the girl in the overall shorts. Laughing with my friends – head thrown back. Dark hair glistening with red highlights under my hat. Burdened by just a backpack.

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