Thursday, December 01, 2011

Overheard on the Bus to Wellfleet ...

The Plymouth & Brockton bus company now operates two daily trips to the Outer Cape. One leaves South Station at 10:15. The other departs four hours later. Both are fifteen minutes shorter than the previous runs. On the bus from Hyannis yesterday, I found myself sitting behind two old friends who had not seen each other in a while and simply happened to ride the bus together. First a disclaimer: all revelatory remarks have been eliminated so no one can guess identities. Both passengers were in their mid-40s, well-educated, and heading to P-town. I started listening in earnest after the woman explained she was in recovery-mode from a recent divorce after 20 years of marriage. I couldn’t understand everything, but what I did hear was fascinating. The snappy conversation proved irresistible:

“You have to come up with projects in the winter, during the day,” said the woman, with regard to how life here can become a challenge once the tourists leave.

The man agreed. He was gay and had been divorced from a woman for five years.

“I can’t go seven months without getting away,” she added.

“Seven months?! I was thinking seven days.” Her companion laughed and described taking frequent trips down to New York to help a friend with a start-up.

Both the man and the woman had been, or were still, running their own business. They bemoaned the fact that it’s impossible to stay open and remain viable outside of high season. (We’re talking Provincetown here, folks. Not Wellfleet.)

Then they discussed the summer economy and housing.

“It’s hard to get a job washing dishes these days and pay the rent,” the woman said.

“I feel so bad for college students,” the man replied.

The woman mentioned an upcoming trip to India. Both were “reassessing core values,” perhaps an “Oprah thing,” the woman suggested. “It’s hard to keep a sense of wonder. That’s why I don’t watch TV.”

“Money doesn’t make the world go round after all,” the man concluded.

Both seemed to agree that easy access to nature on the Outer Cape makes life here worthwhile.

Listening in, I felt conflicted because my parents taught me not to eavesdrop, and yet writers are supposed to listen in on the conversations of strangers for inspiration and dialogue. Do you ever eavesdrop? Did you find this conversation interesting? Are you reassessing core values, too? Do you think "reassessing core values" has anything to do with the Occupy movement, or rather is it related to age?