Nothing puts me to sleep like riding a bus. Some nights on the Number 26 night bus I get the entirety of my measly forty minutes of sleep. The gentle rocking and swaying, the white noise, the cold window pane against my head, the subtle vibrations pulsing up and down my body, it’s the perfect cocktail to knock me out.
We are the night bus sleepers- as I’ve taken to calling us. We come from all walks of life, we have different jobs, circumstance, lifestyles, and beliefs, but there’s one thing that connects us all if only for a fleeting moment- the Number 26, and fatigue.
Maybe you’re too poor to own a car, perhaps you’re too drunk to drive one, or maybe you’re just hopelessly lost, whatever the path that brought you here, for ever so brief and fleeting a moment we share the same route in each other’s lives.
Some commuters I recognize, and I know they remember me as well. We share this part of time, and place, and journey together every night- I see them more often now than I see my own mother. Yet I couldn’t tell you anything about them, their names, their jobs, or why, like me, they sleep on the three AM bus from somewhere to somewhere else.
We are each other’s nameless known faces.
I have little desire to know them, and I have no desire for them to know me. I distance myself with makeshift walls. Headphones, open book, backpack on the seat next to me, all signs that no one is welcome. We keep our questions and wondering to ourselves.
We’re different from the boisterous crowds of the weekends. The loud drunks commuting between parties, or the twitching addicts rocking and scratching at their skin, the entangled limbs of one night lovers clawing at each and wrapping around one another in the back. No, we’re the night bus sleepers, a different breed entirely.
I sleep through all the passengers embarking no matter how raucous and belligerent. In my dreams they’re not themselves, but whatever my mind decides they are in that moment. They’re dragons blowing smoke into my seat, or giants fee-fi-fo-fuming down the aisle.
We are not nocturnal or diurnal, we’re the sleep deprived and tired. We are strong dreamers. We hold our head high even while sleeping. Our hands and cold hard glass our pillow, we need little else.
Come morning I’ll be a different person with a different job riding a different bus on a different commute to a different place. But I’ll be nodding my head in and out of the same dreams to the same rhythm.