A scattered reflection on my childhood commute
Remember waiting for the bus? Yeah… you do. Well, unless you were the kid who lived around the block from school. In that case, go fly a kite. We were always jealous of you because you got to go home and play video games and not do your homework faster than us. And, well, if you were the kid who was chauffeured to and fro every day, go fly a plane you richly rich! You were so spoiled and loved. For us poor kids — that Twinkie, that yellow submarine, that canary casket that would shuttle us to impending doom depending on if it was ‘mile’ day, or, if our procrastination had finally lead to our demise on test day — we remember.
Magnet students, like I was before I lost my metal, were somewhat privileged Not only did we have tougher classes and way more homework, but we also got to wear those ridiculous navy blue and white uniforms. I swear to detention that it cost more money and time finding those stupid outfits than it ever did shopping for regular clothes. My gosh, every autumn anxiety would fall upon me and my family when we knew we had to brave that expedition of school shopping. It goes without saying that that god awful attire is not flattering to the larger builds. We fat kids. Okay, I said it. Anyways, as a fat magnet kid dressed like a sailor, I was privileged to have a bus ride to any school my parents wanted because someone thought I was gifted. Take one look at me then, I’d say I was pretty special.
My bus stop was an island. A scattered grass patch and soil oasis lost in a sea of pavement and tar. It was a dirt strip on a main street that divided the main street into a smaller residential street on the opposing side. Little Normandie, with its own little d-days. I did a lot of philosophizing on that urban island. Waiting there in the brisk, dimly lit mornings I would think about how high school would be, when I got old. Would it be like Saved By The Bell? Would it be like Can’t Hardly Wait? What would it be like? Well, looking back, I can safely say I’m still waiting for that bell to save me. I don’t’ really know what that means, but it sounded right.
My bus stop always had cute girls. Or maybe every girl, at my schools, was cute. Either way, they never thought I was, so, I constantly saw whispers. The whispers at my bus stop were alluring and frightening at the same time. I hoped and hoped that just one day, a cute girl would step in close and, through pig tails and braces, whisper some sweet nothings into my ear. They never did. I always thought those whispers contained the secrets to life itself. Maybe they did.
After he or she (for the sake of anonymity my bus drivers identities must be withheld) hoisted the anchor, a.k.a. closed that high-tech sliding door, we were off. Off to traverse the city or cities, depending on how far you lived. My average bus ride, for example, was about an hour. In part because of the distance, also in part because of the various stops that were made. I remember walking down the aisle was a rush of excitement. Who was where? Who was sitting next to whom? Who had on head phones, meaning you could try and borrow their c.d’s. Who would you want to join to copy homework (that’s about the only time a girl would sit next to me). Where were your buddies, or the girl you were crushing on so you could avoid her in style. Choosing a seat on the bus ride to school is a choice I wish I could make again, sometimes.
Each ride was an adventure. Friendships were made, enriched and sometimes ended. Until next week, then everyone would make up again, usually. I found out what scamming was. I said my first curse words. I learned about punk rock. I saw my first prostitute (and only one you deviant mind) sailing down PCH, and all of those motels. I saw my first police chase. My first fight. And I caught colds, callouses and cavities. I guess, in a way, my childhood commute shaped my perception of the world, what it’s like and what it would be like. Of course, it was a naive and skewed perception. But regardless, it was sure a whole helluva lot better than this here adult commute!
Then, we would arrive at school, and, somehow my personality would change, ever so slightly. I never noticed then, but reflecting now, I see it did. Maybe I need to jump on another bus to figure out why.
The world seemed much bigger then. Maybe I was just a lot smaller. Or, maybe I just miss those whispers at the bus stop.