Riding the Bus in Minneapolis

I love a good transportation woe, and I love Emily Carter Roiphe’s essay about getting around in her hometown of New York versus the city of Minneapolis, where she went for rehab and then stayed for years:

The idea of someone living without a car didn’t come up any more than the idea of someone walking around without a head. If you lived, you drove, was the assumption anywhere but the small island where I was born. The only people who took the bus were disabled, like me: by poor eyesight, by Parkinson’s or schizophrenia, by deafness, by poverty. Those of us who rode the bus didn’t merely look resigned; we looked defiant, staring straight ahead in the kind of square-shouldered so-what attitude most often used to conceal shame about our cheap snow boots and the huge sums of subtraction that showed in our faces.

I hit up my mother for driving lesson money. “Only marginal people take the bus here,” I said.

“Well, Sweetie, you are marginal.”

But she gave me the money, figuring it was but a drop in the bucket of the money I had cost her throughout my life of private schools, privilege, and psychiatrists, all of which had done me no particular good, so much so that it was no longer even a matter of throwing good money after bad but simple harm reduction. The crosstown boulevards and freeway entrances were standing between me and my last chance at a life lived outside an institution.

That being the case, I learned to drive. But I never liked it. Every day for twenty years, I wished that the buses in the Twin Cities would run a little faster.

I am a huge fan of taking the bus in New York, that is when it comes, and flies down the street, and old men mumble weird things and old ladies talk way too loudly and children smile and eat their cheddar bunnies and I can still read Twitter. Every time I ride the subway, on the other hand, I swear to myself I will get out of this damn city if it’s the last thing I do.

Transportation opinions aside, I loved this essay, and Emily Carter’s writing. It finally got me to buy her book Glory Goes and Gets Some from Emily Books. Subway reading!

Photo: Mulad

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.