I've come to realize many things over the course of freshman year. One is to look out for Louise, the ninja security guard; another, to avoid Barbecue Days in the quad. However, one of my greatest lessons thus far is perhaps the etiquette of bus commute.
Ah, yes, the public bus. The giant box on wheels that children everywhere dread, and that adults claim "builds character". I sit squarely in the middle, the naive, confused little elementary schooler stuck in a teenager's body, an individual with the need to be places and without the means to get there, stuck purchasing a bus pass on a Tuesday night in order to ensure another month of hassle-free, at least moneywise, bus commuting.
The etiquette of this mammoth public transport vehicle is strange, at best. In the mornings, backpacks sit squarely on the few empty seats available, giving the clear message that companions are unwelcome. A few older people are sprinkled around, grouped together or on their own. Any seats by said older people are also unavailable. Being so blessed as to be on one of the last stops before a clear shot to school, I am often left standing, clutching onto the metal poles for dear life so as to stop myself from shooting through the windshield. Of course, even standing up has its etiquette: if there is room to do so, keep at least a foot between yourself and other standing passengers. Do not, under any circumstances, have any bodily contact whatsoever with anyone. Stepping on shoes is a crime punishable by death.
However, the afternoon commute is a different matter entirely. There is no civility; seniors are crushed amongst freshmen in order to obtain a coveted seat for their ride home. Girls and boys are equal, and elbows tend to come in handy. The unlucky souls who are left seatless are crammed together, and getting to the door is an unfortunate task for those like myself, who get off at one of the earliest stops.
God, I wish I could drive.
But, despite my complaining, the bus does represent more than the irritation that plagues my mornings. It's a safe haven from the rain, cold, and wind. It's abandoning my friends, and being abandoned. It's leaving an upset, vulnerable friend on the bus, because it's my stop. It's a meeting place in the early morning, and a brief resting place on the way home. It's a little battle every day. It's freedom upon escaping, and sadness upon departure. Watching the bus leave me behind is just another symbol for the fleeting days of freshmanhood, of childhood, for my departing comrades, hopes, and notions.
In the end, it just means that things will be different, and things will be the same. Next year, there will be new people on that bus, and many of the veterans will be gone.
But next year, I'll still get off and walk by my old middle school, smiling faintly at the little blue uniforms running the track. I'll crunch the leaves from the expansive hedge, and trace a finger along the calla lillies on the corner. I'll press the button, wait for the walk sign, and walk across, cautious of the traffic. I'll walk down the street, looking up at the sky and remembering when I used to spend my time praying that he would like me back. I'll remember dropping my keys before opening the door to the worst news of my life. I'll remember my childhood. I'll open the door and sleep, or go babysit, or do homework.
I'll laugh at the irony that my parents are suspicious when I eat no dinner, yet I walked around with cuts on my arms and dark circles under my eyes and no one noticed.
And I'll go on living.
Little girl, little girl why are you crying?
Inside your restless soul your heart is dying
Little one, little one your soul is purging
Of love and razor blades your blood is surging