Cambridge to Brookline on Monday night

charlie ticket on the express bus

10:03 p.m. — Slide out of the back seat and say thanks to the nice people who drove you to Harvard Square so you didn't have to walk.

10:04 p.m. — Skirt around the man sitting on the sidewalk, legs splayed, pouring his stomach contents onto the pavement.

10:07 p.m. — Hide behind a pole to avoid the subway musician as you wait for the red line train. His electric keyboard plays a prerecorded tune while he hassles other passengers to pay for his concert. He is unsuccessful, unless you count a Cheetos from two high school boys.

10:10 p.m. — Get on the train and sit across from a girl and her dog. The girl wears several pounds of jewelry, which might or might not include two horse shoes and a hanger hook. Her hair blends gracefully between brown, blonde, and teal — the same shade as her tights tucked neatly into half-laced brown combat boots. Two dreadlocks frame her petite, smiling face, and her short hair in back is gathered into a ponytail. This matches her dog, who is wearing a "There ain't no thing as too much bling" t-shirt and sporting a poufy tail and tiny mohawk with horizontal teal stripes. He quietly befriends nearby passengers with his endearing underbite.

10:19 p.m. — Change from the red to the green line.

10:28 p.m. — Sit next to the window, where you shortly will be joined by a young psychiatrist-in-training reading The Gift of Therapy. He starts the ride with the chapter "Don't be afraid of touching your patient," but he will have advanced to "Never be sexual with patients" by the time you get off the train. An orange foam bat is tucked into his briefcase.

10:31 p.m. — Look across the aisle. You will see a young man in jeans and a grey t-shirt composing a sonata as his K-Swiss sneaker keeps time.

10:39 p.m. — Step off the train into the cool dark night, relishing the silence as you walk towards home.

10:44 p.m. — Stop for the Asian woman speaking loudly at you in Chinese. Spend the next five minutes attempting to understand where she needs to go and explain directions. Ponder the lack of similarity between Chinese and English. Use broad hand gestures for "train" and "that way." Rummage in your bag for pen and paper to draw a map, although you still do not know her destination. Decline her apparent requests for you to act as guide to her unknown destination. Thank the Asian girl riding past on a bike who stops and takes over because she can understand the woman.

10:52 p.m. — Unlock your front door, slip out of your TOMS, and tell your husband and mother-in-law about your trip home.