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Life is a metro transportation system

Tom Cochrane will tell you that life is a highway, "one day here and the next day gone," and that we're all rushing down the interstate, maneuvering amidst traffic, just trying get where we're going without being thrown to the pavement.

Pocahontas would argue that, no, life is actually more like a river, and that we should quite literally go with the flow and follow the current as it leads us to whatever's "waiting just around the river bend."

I'm going to suggest another analogy, however: in my experience, life is like the metro transit system.

It makes sense in so many ways. For one, there are multiple ways of getting to the same place, depending on how far you're willing to walk and how many transfers you'll agree to take; this is like life, where a single goal can be reached by many different figurative avenues, and is directly dependent on what you're prepared to give to the journey.

Sometimes, buses break down, and you have to be patient and wait for the only bus left running to get you back to your dorm from the movie theatre at night.

Riding the bus brings you into contact with a plethora of people you'd never have otherwise met. People of all ages pay their fare and climb on board, from toothless women carrying grocery bags older than me, to infants whose parents carefully lift their strollers onto the bus. Some of them will strike up a conversation and leave some dimple of an impression on you that will follow you to your stop and beyond, and others will walk in and out of your life in a matter of city blocks, lost in the abysses of the Cities.

The metaphor doesn't end with the buses themselves. Having been here merely a month, I've already seen relationships formed, ended, strengthened and rediscovered at bus stops. My favorite involved two long-lost friends, one of whom was surprised at being identified because "no one ever recognizes me in this hat," a furry monstrosity roughly the size of Rhode Island.

Sometimes you'll get a cranky bus driver, and other times you'll find one whose street-by-street commentary makes what would have been a dull ride into the highlight of your weekend. And every once in a while, you realize you don't know anything whatsoever about the person in the driver's seat. So goes life.

Just as in my day-to-day doings and dealings, there are certain people that I want to have as bus buddies, to be around when I lose my transfer, to make sure I have enough coins for fare, and, of course, to silently giggle with me at eavesdropped conversations about Dumbledore's finer fictional moments.

Of course, there will be days when you miss a connection, or awkwardly fall into a stranger when the bus starts moving before you've found a seat, or perhaps, when you're heading back to your dorm after a friendly visit to the U of M, you get on the right bus...but going in the wrong direction. That's life, yeah?

But there are also days when your route takes you through a new scenic neighborhood, or to an undiscovered novelty of a cheap and tasty restaurant, or someone inadvertently leads you to the correct bus stop when you weren't really sure which of the four within view was the one you were looking for.

Methinks it might be time to invest in a bus pass, because this is one ride everybody should take.

Stop the bus -- I want to get on!