Friday, January 27, 2012
The Wheels on the Bus
When it was time to pull the cord that would notify the driver I wanted off at the next stop I found myself getting just a bit giddy, just like when I was a kid. Growing up, I usually rode the bus with other people so I could never be sure this responsibility would fall to me. But yesterday I was alone. Pulling that cord was sweet.
There were about 50,000 people in Everett when I was growing up, not a huge city, but no village either. Life was simple in those day. As we lived just south of the city limits, we often relied upon the bus to get us to town. I usually traveled with my brother Tom. He was a year older than I, level headed and dependable, so I just trotted along behind him and he always got us where we were going.
We signed up for swimming lessons the summer I was seven. I put my clothes on over my swimsuit and we walked down to Taylor's corner store and boarded the bus for Silver Lake. The teachers walked us into the lake, told us to form a circle, then instructed us to put our faces into the lake and blow bubbles. I was indignant. My face? In this dirty lake? No Way! All I wanted to do was get back into my safe, dry clothes and go home. But when I returned to the dressing room, I couldn't find my undies. I had to put my clothes on over my wet bathing suit and get back on the bus.
It was during the two block walk from the bus to our house that I found the undies on the sidewalk. Oh, the humiliation!
I sometimes rode the bus with Tom when he went to his Saturday morning violin lesson. Mr Nastri was a fine musician and he saw promise in Tom. As I remember it, his studio was on the second floor of an older downtown building. The studio was smallish, filled with printed music and magic. It was always an adventure to take bus trips with my brother.
One summer day between 8th and 9th grades, I got to go downtown by myself to pick out fabric and a pattern to make a dress. It was a huge opportunity for me, and I was very proud of myself.
When I finished my shopping, I realized that I didn't know which bus to catch to get home, and Tom wasn't there to help me. I was just starting to panic when I saw two girls from school, with some little kids in tow, queuing up for a bus. I didn't really know the girls, but I did know that if we went to the same school, we lived in the same part of town. When the bus door opened, I, too, climbed on.
The bus pulled away from the curb and headed due north, far from where I needed to go. I spoke to the girls from school and discovered that they were babysitting and were delivering the kids home after an outing to town.
It was clear this bus was not going to take me home; I needed a back-up plan. Then I remembered that my great-uncle Lewis and great-aunt Nellie lived on the bus line in the north end of town. Just before their stop, I reached up confidently and pulled the cord, notifying the driver of my intentions. Gathering my bags, I walked with head held high, dropped my coins in the money box, and stepped off the bus.
What I lack in planning skills, I make up for in resourcefulness.