In Transit: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 1

Part 1: NYE with TRU

“And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! and gie’s a hand o’ thine! And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught, for auld lang syne.”


I am grateful for this community of misfits and oddballs, for transit riders worldwide—dismissed, denigrated, devalued—yet rising, rising, organizing; a multitude in motion; one big union against the techno-fix.

In Lebanon, I dreamt of working on new internationalisms, to give my migration some meaning. But I couldn’t imagine that two hours over coffee was enough to help turn that dream into reality. That was months ago; yesterday we had wine, whiskey, and doudou shots.

I’m grateful for Katie and Beau and Robert and Matt, and all my Seattle TRU comrades. @RidersRightsNet has a long, long way to go, but I‘m happy to be walking alongside these companions on the way.

Part 2: The Magician’s Assistant

This is Mira—l’heure bleue with red banner raised. Mira jokes about being a magician’s assistant, but this is how I like to see her; the standard-bearer, flying the flag when others’ arms begin to fail. Mira will read that & probably message to say: “I’m laughing.”

This moment was captured a week before I left Lebanon for good, three years into the life of @BusMapProject—itself the germ of a seed planted eight years prior. It was a good day for the project.

Mira had written about us in 2016, & some time later, joined us as an intern—I preferred “visiting scholar.” Though her official term with us was a mere six months, Mira’s remained a steadfast friend of the project & one of our greatest allies—see this article she wrote recently, for example.

She’ll shrug off that text as “just a summary.” She has a knack for downplaying what she does; during her stint in Beirut, we’d often write together—she’d say I made texts better, I’d say she helped me think my thoughts. And for that, I’m grateful.

Have you ever been really inarticulate? Unable to speak, but also, out of joint? Like your articulating hinges are missing? Like some of the parts got lost in transit? This happened to me at one point along the way. But I somehow kept speaking, though the loudest sound in my head was the staccato beat of my own hesitation. Despite doing everything to sabotage myself, I still somehow pushed some of the necessary words out. Mira says that’s because my spirit’s a dung beetle; a royal scarab rolling in it, always nudging it forward.

I appreciate Mira for her quirky & insightful words, her good humor & light touch—it’s how I know she won’t find this post too bizarre. Like the texts we co-wrote, our friendship articulated particular words I’d been choking on. She helped me spit them out, & it seemed effortless—like a magician with silk scarves, it looked graceful, but I knew the trick.

I’m thankful for Mira’s scholarship & the hope it keeps alive. I’m elated that she‘ll keep saying those words that are necessary; I’m excited to continue learning from her. But mostly, I’m grateful for what I’ve already learned—sometimes, the parts go missing for a reason.

Sometimes, your stuttering is an invitation to friendships that are more than adverbs or punctuation—they complete your sentences. They let you appreciate the silence.

I remember Mira saying something about our comfort with silence, as friends; she’d say it better, though.

Part 3: Bus Map Project

For the coffees we didn’t buy in the cafés without wifi; for the promises that weren’t kept and the collabs that never happened; for the people who called us dreamers and didn’t mean that as a compliment; for the dreamers who did their best but had other things to do; for the interviews misquoted and the invitations not received; for the data we didn’t gather; for the updates we didn’t make; for the grants we didn’t win and the proposals we didn’t write; for the arguments; for the fights; for the voice notes and the calls; for that gritty sense of brotherhood—I am grateful.

It’s been a long and bumpy ride, ya @farajchadi. It’s been fun. Let’s keep doing it 😉

For @srschellen, for @sara.elsamman, for @amychiniara—from @busmapproject to @ridersrightslb, so very grateful.

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