The Other Side of the Glass
Tantalus was, of course, the figure in Greek myth wo offended the gods* and was thus punished to spend eternity standing in a pool of water underneath a tree full of fruit. Whenever he'd try to satisfy his hunger or thirst, the water would drain away at his approach and the tree branches would move just out of reach. Tantalus' name is where we get our modern word "tantalize"**.
Riding the bus affords me the opportunity, for good or ill, to gaze out the window at a life that always seems just out of reach: a coffeeshop we used to frequent. A grocery store where we used to buy our food. The store where the boys would rent their video games. The playground where Nessies liked to hang upside down on the jungle gym. The shop where Mama would buy her herbal teas.
And not just figments of the life we once lived, either, but the one we'd like to experience: The mansions with the immaculately cared-for lawns. The sleek new vehicles lined up for prospective buyers. The gleaming office buildings where the high-paying jobs are. The scrubbed private schools with their track records for providing good educations. The happy, smiling couples on their way to some exotic, exciting locale.
All just out of reach. Close enough to be just on the other side of the glass, perhaps a fingerprint away. Far enough away to be blurred by the persistent fog of envy.
*Of course, from my reading of Greek mythology, ticking off Zeus and company was like shooting fish in a barrel. I don't know how the universe in those stories survived.
**And for you fellow Trekkers, Tantalus was also the name of one of the Federation's prison planets.
I spent six years in the Air Force (got out when my daughter was born). Through that time, and time in Korea, Saudi, and Kuwait, among others, I learned that each place, no matter how sh$#@$tty, is what you make of it.
"Got no power windows, got no power brakes, ain't got no power nothing, but he got what it takes..."