The other morning I left the house in a Chinese blouse,slim cut jeans, minimal-istic cloth shoes and a formally men's jacket partly covered in scooter rally patches from the rallies I had been to,a big part of who I am these days.Over my shoulder I carried my messenger bag,water proof, swallow-er of all things I need for my day and sensible for my life.
I always arrive at the bus stop early because you never quite know when the bus is coming.The time table is just a guideline not an exact charting of arrivals.I had settled in,sitting on the bench for my wait....Along came a women visibly dressed for a work place unlike my own laid back shop.Dress slacks,high end running shoes to save her nice work shoes I would assume, and an expensive looking windbreaker.She was petite and trim with a non-dis-script hairstyle.
Here we were,two women,on our ways to work places,waiting for the bus but very far away from each other in our lives.No problems there,no hang ups,no attachments,no judgments,just two women waiting for the bus.
After a few moments the woman speaks to me in a bit of a high tone-
Woman: Um.., When does the bus come? I don't normally do this kind of thing,my car is in the shop.
Now,I had to keep myself from laughing at her,it would have been rude.When she said the part about not "normally doing this kind of thing" it was said like she had just agreed to a hook up in a bar in Vegas.So unsure and like she was doing something dirty and naughty. I wondered if she was the kind of woman that carries hand sanitizer in her bag. But instead I checked my watch for the time and replied to the woman.
Me: It should be here within five minutes.
Woman simply gives me a look I could not get.The bus arrives,we step on,sit down and away we roll towards our days.Just two women beginning their days on the bus.
On the bus there are the other regular rider's.An assortment of people and races,most of whom I have yet to talk with beyond a semi-sleepy smile hello.Across the aisle from me is the tiny Latino lady,her bag in her lap,dressed in working class clothing and as always with a pleasant look on her face.Another woman,on the bus rolling along towards her day.
People come and go along the route,some of which I notice and some of which I don't.On the far side of my neighborhood the bus stops at a large apartment complex.Here a woman catches my eye as she steps aboard. She is a tall,willow-ly, elegant and regal Latina.Dressed in a pinstriped pencil skirt suit,charcoal hose and heart stopping heels.Heels that were oxblood red patten leather unlike anything I had ever seen for sale here in the States.Her hair curled into a 1940's inspired do of curls and waves.Her head held high with confidence that did not even hint at arrogance. A presence of old school Euro style and grace.
A whole world away from the tiny Latina across the aisle form me but they are two women on the bus rolling towards their days.
It quickly become apparent that the pinstripe suited Latina speaks no English and has never been on our bus system.The driver tries in English to explain where to put her fare with no luck.The tiny Latina speaks up in Spanish,her voice matches the pleasant look she carries on her face.The fare goes into the slots,a transfer slip is given and the regal Latina sits down while thanking the tiny Latina with the same grace she carries herself with.
Here we are four women,on the bus ,rolling towards our days.
Four Mary's as it were.Meaning the name Mary tends to be a non-dis-script plain name just like the word Woman is so generic at times.The word woman defines our gender, not who we are at our cores.The word woman does not tell us why one would equate riding the bus with a Vegas hook up.While the other just steps on the bus and rolls with it.
There have been many women with the name Mary who have become some amazing women. Artist,writer,singer,activist and saint have all been attached to a woman named Mary.Each one walking a different path and filling a different pair of shoes to become someone not as plain and simple as the name Mary or the word Woman.
You can apply the word woman to any woman but you have not walked in her shoes to know who she is.Would I be able to fill those oxblood heels and could she fill my shoes of cloth? Most likely not,I like my cloth shoes and the who,what ,where,how and why I wear them.And I like the woman who wears my shoes.I can also respect the woman in the oxblood heels and how she came to wear them because we should all be the woman we want to be.Secondhand shoes are never as satisfying as your very own shoes,worn by no one but you.
Joan Baez sings a beautiful version of "Mary Hamilton", a song about a woman named Mary who made her choices in her life that end at the gallows.At the eleventh hour the offer comes to spare Mary Hamilton yet she refuses,she has chosen her shoes and the path she walked and accepts her end with her head held high,although it means tomorrow there will be only three Mary's.
I wonder what it would take for women to accept each other simply on the level that we are all women.Wither we wear slim cut jeans,dress slacks,working class clothes or a pinstriped pencil skirt.We have not worn each other's shoes.We do not know where they pinch or squeeze.Or are they filled with soft ease or stoic stiffness.
I wonder if we could come together simply as four women riding on the bus,rolling along towards our days.Could that be enough?