Considering the Notion of Displacement

Maybe we’re all just ice cubes.

And when we travel we have our shapes which get, by some invention of work or pleasure or obligation, dropped into various solutions. The destination is the solution, not that travel leads us to existential solutions but this is a strong possibility.

We are ice cubes, crunchy ice, tubes, hunks, wee slivers. I’m a great fan of road trips. Big fan, in fact, because when you travel at your own pace, stopping here and there, sleeping at cheap motel chains that have numbers in the name, you experience a variety of solutions yet maintain your shape for your car is your container. It’s almost like being an ice cube that gets to try on different cocktails, ice teas, sodas or waters.

This is different if you travel by air. You are an ice cube picked up by the great machines and ministrations of air travel, slip into your seat, just like those old fashion aluminum ice trays. And you are popped out unceremoniously into a solution where you now visit or stay.  In a cosmic plastic forty-eight ounce cup, the world is shaken not stirred. And yes you may be excited as a (insert favorite metaphor here) but still you are a cube.

This cube flew from Austin to Boston yesterday and for me, displacement is the feeling of melting back into the season, the air, the movement of a city I know well. Yes, it’s changed but the soft air coming off the harbor in a light breeze was a lovely greeting. The breeze did not scorch. The scene was Logan, waiting for the bus that would take me to the subway, the taxis, the buses the people, nothing pretty but so familiar.

And then I got on the bus with my nine years of Austin cubism. It’s packed, a man is blocking the entry and he doesn’t move, nor does he help schlep my bag on to the bus. No one moves, others are trying to get on.  I wrangle my bag past other cubes but they refuse displacement even to look up and just acknowledge a fellow cube. Back of the bus, this cube realized a number of my expectations for public behavior have shifted. There I am crammed in the back with suitcase and travel bag, heavier at the end of the day, purse over my shoulder, taking up three seats, not by choice, when an older man, sees even more people crunch their way into the bus, starts looking around for a solution.

“There’s not enough seats.” ” Where will they fit?” and he turns his head in my direction. His look bewildered and yet not.  So I say, “I’d be glad to open up these seats if you will help me move my suitcase.” I smiled my nine years of Texas.  He swiveled his head away so fast and didn’t move.

In my mind the Bostonian in me said, “There’s room. It’s a city bus. We just fit or wait for the next one.” Knowing I would gladly move if I had help. Knowing in Austin, in Texas, some person, male or female would have aided my entrance to the bus in the first place.

As this ice cube sat on the bus, got her Boston game face one and dragged herself to the bottom of the cup, cube and solution. Austin into Boston. . .love that dirty water.

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