The men took the outer seats, leaving two empty seats on the inside. This is something we roll our eyes at no matter what country we left behind as we hold onto the straps that dangle from the bus ceiling, trying to balance our heels into the tracked mats below our feet. Their language is at first unfamiliar to my ear; not the Australian English I am accustomed to and certainly not the American English that rolls from my own mouth. They sit. We stand. The bus slams on its brakes and I rock my sole into toes, apologizing profusely.
I look at the other girls, mouthing our disapproval with our eyes and then we laugh. We don’t speak the same language and we laugh.
A seat opens and I take it. The men still guard the inside seats. The girl sitting next to me is Russian and I know because I asked if she was with the men and she said no and that she didn’t speak English because she is Russian. And the men turn around to stare at us and I say “hi” in a very annoyed way.
Two more girls enter the bus. They are French. I know because I speak French and they said “merde”, which is “shit”, and they stood where I had been standing, their hands woven into the straps, trying to balance in their Adidas Superstars. They eyed us with the same disapproval and we laughed.
Two Aussie girls got on next. This is their territory; this is their home. “Move” one said to the men. And the men did. And then they spoke loudly in Italian.
Our cultures converged on a bus through Bondi Junction. Ex-pats far from home. With the same expectations and disappointments we find in our own countries. With the same unspoken communication and humor to get us through our days.
In less than five minutes, we bonded. In less than five minutes, we had a conversation without speaking more than ten words. Not giving mind to where we were from, but only to where we came, and how on a bus through Bondi Junction, we laughed.