Apoptygma Berzerk – Something I Should Know – 1st November 2002
Got a feeling deep inside
That you know something I should know
I know that something isn’t right
Coz I hold secrets too and you know
I’m on a bus ride home. It is dark, rainy and windy outside.
An hours’ journey ahead when I’d rather just be home.
The usual crowd get on the bus after a day at work. I recognise many but speak to none: there is an unconscious code for commuters by which we never speak. We all look equally as miserable and desperate. Dishevelled. There’s a man about my age who has a familiarity to him. He looks smart in his suit, yet somehow dwarfed like the world of business is eating him right up. I sometimes think I would like to talk to him – I can hear from his earphones that he has alternative music taste like me. He keeps his eyes down, playing snake on his Nokia. I wonder if we could have been friends or maybe more if we had met under circumstances other than the shared rat-race transporter. Then there is the woman with the Armani handbag, which is either a fake or she has spent all her money on one item and has to make do with supermarket basics for the rest. There is the woman with the perm – she looks pretty drenched and is out of breath today – and the man who only gets the bus on a Friday, and calls his wife as we set off to let her know he will be on time or late.
I hope no one sits next to me. A small pleasure to have a double seat to yourself with your bag beside you, and room to manoeuvre CDs into the discman. Not today. An overweight woman with scraggly grey hair and a mucky waterproof coat sits beside me. She takes up over half of the seat and smells like a combination of foist and a spice cupboard. Oh, my Great Aunt’s spice cupboard! I remember that from being small, I haven’t thought about it in years. But this smell right now – although it is tinted with nostalgia – is making me want to wretch. Look out of the window, try to ignore it. Think of the wonderful freshness of the air out there. Think of the spirit of Autumn that infiltrates your very being every year. That feeling that says ‘things are dying but new times are coming; the night will embrace you’. The walk home from the bus stop will be pleasant. The arrival into the house perhaps not so much.
These moments between work and home allow me a space to just exist without outbursts and spite. The pain is just mine in these moments, no one else can interfere with it. It is what it is, for me to examine and chew over and affect however I will, like a scientist of old working hard in an alchemy lab. I hold the pain in my tongs, hold it over fire and examine it once more. I boil it up in a beaker of water and strain the sediment and it smells of… spices and foist.
Whatever it is that has caused this pain, I’m not altogether sure. There are signs that there is something wrong with my life, warning signs flashing and blaring like the fireworks I see through the bus window. But what specifically? Which part is such a mess? And where could I possibly go instead? Are my cravings to blame, or my naivety in allowing myself to be tricked into a position of submission; an inability to admit I am being deceived and the sincerity is all of my own imagining?
The strength is building in me, on these nights on the bus after work. The aforementioned alchemy is truly hardening something within me. And I know for the first time, on this particular bleak evening, that harder times are ahead. Yet I also know they will fashion the key to my way out. My heart will become open and raw. I will taste blood and see my mind dribbling into a drain. But afterwards the poison will be gone and I will be as fresh as the Autumn air.
I imagine myself in a darkened underpass. Uneven concrete walls, graffiti and echoes of harsh voices that sound threatening, purely out of unfamiliarity. A yellow light is up ahead, and I am walking towards it. Glowing amber streetlights made streaky by the raindrops on the window. There is no turning back now.
I become alert suddenly. The woman beside me has reached her stop and gets up to disembark, but the smell will linger for sure. What will linger of me, I wonder. Who will I be next time the Autumn spirit comes?