There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Monday, June 4, 2007

Revenge of the Lawn, but not on the bus

I was in my backyard by the pool reading when I finished Richard Brautigan's "Revenge of the Lawn." It was Saturday. The sound of the pool's waterfall didn't quite mask the industrial noise of the filter. And neither the waterfall nor the filter could keep out the noise of the No. 82 bus. Weekend suburban nature sounds.

The No. 82 bus runs once an hour on weekends. Beyond the pool, past the house, over the sidewalk and on the street I mark the hour with the passage of the No. 82 bus. And 26 minutes later I mark the hour with the passage of the No. 82 bus. And 34 minutes later I mark the hour with the passage of the No. 82 bus. Three not quite equal parts make an hour on the suburban weekend.

I purchased "Revenge of the Lawn" when I purchased "Trout Fishing in America." Each of the new copies came with two other books by Brautigan wrapped inside the covers. All of these books I read separately when I was just out of high school. Three not quite equal parts make up each book.

"Revenge of the Lawn" is a collection of short stories, which was written about 10 years after "Trout Fishing in America." And the stories have much the same poetic imagery:

Like most Californians, I come from someplace else and was gathered to the purpose of California like a metal-eating flower gathers the sunshine, the rain, and then to the freeway beckons its petals and lets the cars drive in, millions of cars into but a single flower, the scent choked with congestion and room for millions more.
Thirty-some years is a long time between readings. Everything feels familiar and new at the same time.

On Monday I was back on the street waiting for the bus. Brautigan captured that too so very well in his story "The Old Bus":
I was glad when the bus came. There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

4 comments:

Jon Q. RT Driver said...

Spotting the bus with orange lights and destination sign peering through the sunrise is always a great thing. Growing up in Rancho Cordova, I commuted to places I never imagined I could get to. Of course, I was a teenager, but it was a great feeling nonetheless. 5 AM, getting the 72 to Watt/Manlove. I sure am nostalgic, but do not miss the walk plus the bus ride to get to the station.

I remember, when I was a driver trainee at RT my first assignment was route 72. The same bus I rode for more than 3 years. It was weird looking at life from behind the wheel instead of the fairbox.

John said...

Wow. Getting to drive the bus you used to ride. That must be the transit version of playing ball for the team you cheered as a kid.

Or, as Brautigan might describe it:

"It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing."

Queen of Dysfunction said...

Hmmm... methinks I may have to pick up one of these books. Or both. Depending on how much plasma I've sold and what I can afford.

John said...

If you have never tried Richard Brautigan, I recommend the omnibus edition of Trout Fishing in America, Pill vs. the Spring Hill Mine Disaster and In Watermelon Sugar. It's available at Amazon.