I’ve got pretty good balance. In yoga classes, my tree pose is perfectly passable. And that’s on one foot. So you would think I should have no trouble standing in a crowded bus, two feet planted firmly on the ground, leaning nonchalantly on the handrail, headphones in, phone in hand. Right?
Oh. So. Wrong.
It’s all going so well. I even remember to look up from my phone as we cross the Harbour Bridge – a stunning view no matter how many times you look at it. Once we are across, I scroll through my playlists looking for something to follow Post Malone’s ‘I Fall Apart’, a beautifully raw and soulful song about heartbreak. And then I enter a parallel universe where his song unwittingly becomes the soundtrack to a tragic fall from grace.
The bus jerks suddenly (‘Surprised when you caught me off guard’) and I fall apart. All over the lady standing in front of me. (‘Ooh, I fall apart.’) As if in slow motion, I crash into her backpack (which is on her back) and then keep falling. I’m falling so hard (‘Harder than the liquor I pour’), and with such conviction that I push her off the step she is on. Thankfully, she has better balance than I do and steadies herself.
I try to find something to hold on to but the people closest to my awkward and unintended bus-dancing are on their phones so no one’s hands are free. I am also apologising to a backpack whilst hoping the lady attached to it is amused rather than annoyed.
Balance still eludes me. The lady with the backpack now becomes not just my victim but my cushion. (‘Ooh, I fall apart.’) I finally stop flailing about like an elephant on ice-skates and find stillness. Of body but not of mind. (‘Too many thoughts running through my brain.’)
The guy who is seated next to me – seated so comfortably that he is able to play Solitaire on his phone – looks at me pitifully and asks,
“Are you ok?”
No, I’m mortified
“Yes, thank you,” are the words that come sheepishly out of my mouth.
I’m embarrassed because I should have been holding on to the handrails. With my hand, not my hip. I should not have been scrolling through playlists and endangering the
lives comfort levels of my fellow passengers, most of whom just want to get to work without anyone invading their personal space and preferably without having to make any eye contact whatsoever.
I tuck my phone under my arm and hold on to the handrails with both hands. Partly because the bus is still jerking but mostly to make a statement: I acknowledge my stupidity and am ensuring I don’t harm anyone else in the 5 minutes left of this bus journey. Good thing too because Backpack Lady subtly glances over her shoulder to check that the clumsy oaf behind her is actually holding on now. (‘I can’t let go’)
The embarrassment does not subside. (‘Try to brush it off but it keep on going.’)
I apologise to the lady again as I get off the bus. She says “No, you’re alright,” which is Aussie for “That’s alright.” After I used her as a human shield against being propelled forward into a potential human-domino situation, this is incredibly kind and I want to hug her.
But for some reason she is walking rather briskly away from me. (‘Fool me twice and it’s all my fault.’)
©2018 Seetha Dodd