Stepping Off the Bus

by kellybakes in


Have you ever had a movie moment? One where you can see your life playing out in slow motion in front of you? One that feels so surreal that you can almost hear the piano-y music playing in the background as you make a split-second decision to face your fears and do the most mortifying thing you can think of?

A few months ago, I stepped onto a bus, walked down the aisle and hesitantly sat down. My heart thrummed in my chest. My knee shook uncontrollably. My head snapped to look out the window and then darted to the open door. I knew I was making a mistake. I wanted to get off the bus. I needed to get off the bus. When I got on moments before, I carried words with me--thoughts, feelings and questions that were months in the making--that had been silenced by fear and doubt. I knew if I didn't get out of my seat and run back onto the sidewalk, I'd never have the chance to say them. The doors would close, the wheels would roll, I'd find myself moving in a direction I didn't want to be headed to and would be trapped for the ride with regret to taunt me the entire way.

I watched as the driver got up to help someone get onto the bus. I had time. He seemed to move so slowly that his limbs blurred, yet my thoughts were somehow stuck on fast forward. I pictured myself clutching the metal rail, bolting out of my seat and sprinting down the sidewalk, orchestra music overshadowing all sound until I could stop, catch my breath and speak my peace. I was having a movie moment.

Get off the damn bus, Kelly. 

Move one foot. If you do, the hardest part will be over and the rest will follow.

If you don't do it now, you'll replay this moment for months. Save yourself the torture.

Get. Off. The. Bus.

As the scene played over and over in my head, it looped just as I got my words out and each time was left waiting, on the verge of a response. The fear of rejection cemented my feet, traveled up my legs and anchored me to my seat. The driver got back on the bus. He sat in his own seat. He closed the door. The urge to run seemed to taunt my leaden legs as I replayed my movie ending one last time. I couldn't do it. I stared out into the night as the bus rolled away and the figure of the person I hoped to catch got smaller as the road stretched out behind me and then, suddenly, was swallowed by darkness.

I can't count the number of times I've replayed that moment in my head. In fact, I had an entirely different blog post planned for today--something food related, actually--but though the pictures were pretty, the words wouldn't mesh and what I attempted to say was shallow and insignificant. As I scowled at my laptop in frustration and writers block, my imagination found its way back to the bus... Only this time, I rewrote the ending. Though my words weren't held captive by fear, I didn't get the happy ending. Surprisingly, I was okay with it. My mind drifted, moving through scenes from my life since that night. As I experienced them anew, I realized that every memory shared a common theme. Every broken relationship I attempted to fix, every dream I gave breath to and every mortifying situation I pushed myself into was an attempt to get off a bus I didn't know I had been riding. I'm not sure exactly which direction I'm headed in or where these choices will take me, but as they've proven several times already, my feet know their way to the door...just in case.