The bus passed in front of me, a cloud of hot steam and the smell of gasoline flooding my senses as I could make out what I thought was an advertisement for a new radio station, the host's teeth flashing white once in front of my eyes before it, too, rounded a corner and disappeared down the busy city street.
I was gulping in lungfuls of bitter air, the handles on my bag slipping through my fingers as I let it fall on the sidewalk with a loud plunk. The space the bus had once occupied seemed so void—how could it be that just seconds before, I would have been a part of that very space, that I, right now, could be traveling 30 miles an hour, would glance at my watch and thank God that I had minutes to spare.
Now, of course, the space was empty and I was still, hands on my knees, out of breath and heart pounding with fervor.
“Next one comes in fifteen.”
I turned around and came face to face with an old woman perched on a bench so delicately that I had to check twice to make sure she wasn’t sitting on a doily.
She looked me up and down. “I hope you weren’t…in a rush.”
Given that I was still panting like a marathon runner who came in last, I could only offer a noncommittal “eh,” take up my bag, and sit down beside her.
“I’ve got a grandson,” she started—I mentally prepared myself—“just about your age. Hasn’t got his foot in the door yet, but smart, though. Real smart. Just hasn’t found his place though, hasn't found it, you know. But he will.”
“Find it?” I asked, vaguely wondering how much a taxi would put me back.
“It,” she said, turning to me.
Probably would cost me the next few dinners, but if I called now, I could still–
“Well, you know. IT!”
I didn’t know IT. I didn’t even know why she bothered talking to me.
“I keep on telling him that it will come to him. BAM! One day, it’s suddenly there, and nothing else will be the same for him.”
“What, you mean, you mean, like destiny or something?”
The old woman tossed her head back and laughed, muttering to herself something about “kids and their New Age fancies.” “No, I mean IT! It will totally change his life if he can find it. Or if IT finds him. I suppose it doesn’t matter much which way it happens, just so long as it does.”
I checked my watch.
“Ten more minutes,” the woman said, shaking her phone in my face. “I’ve got the app.”
“Thanks. So, uh, this IT,” I said, rubbing my knees, “Do you think it’s out there for everyone?”
Shock spread over her face. “Of course! Lordy, it would be awful if it wasn’t.”
“Oh,” she practically cooed, “You’re trying to look for IT too, aren’t you?”
Fifteen minutes late to a meeting while chatting up an old lady about metaphysics on a bench at a bus stop, and I could see no possible reality in which she wasn’t wrong.
“I guess so, I mean, I dunno,” I said.
She laid a hand on my shoulder. “Try not to worry so much. You’ll find IT. And if you need a place to get started, there’s an Apple store hiring on 48th. My grandson's tried there, but he hasn't had much luck, and I hear that the whole industry is—”
I jerked back. “Oh my god, do you mean ‘I.T.’!?”