May 2, 2012

Bus to Nowhere

When I was younger I moved around quite a bit. The first four years of my life were spent in St. Helens, Oregon, and then we moved up to Washington for a year. I have a lot of great memories from that time. Mostly that when we moved back to Oregon I was allowed to eat cake for breakfast, a novelty that clung to my memory with a tenacity that many other experiences have not. We then settled in Newberg, Oregon, the home of my grandparents and as stated by the welcoming sign on the outskirts of town, "A good place to grow." We lived in three different homes in Newberg during my childhood, the last being the house that my parents still occupy. I was pretty bummed about that last relocation and had some compelling arguments for why we should stay in the city limits. I had made quite a few friends in town, we had all these cats (some stray, some not), and I didn't want to change schools. My parents were uncaring and we moved out of town with only a single cat in tow. The school that I transferred to for fourth grade was out in the sticks. No longer would we get rides to school. My younger brother and I would have to ride the bus to and from school like everyone else.

On the first day my parents weren't going to be home when we arrived since they had jobs with commutes, but my Aunt Sharon was going to be there to welcome our triumphant return. This would have been a real treat, as she was our favorite aunt. We caught the bus to school without hitch, we went through the bewildering cloud of a First Day at a New School, and then somehow my brother and I got on the wrong bus. We rode, silently, sharing a seat and staring out the window until we noticed that everyone had gotten off the bus but us. The scenery was unfamiliar. The hills were on the wrong side. Besides the roaring of the motor, it was eerily silent. As the bus continued its ponderous meandering into town I sat stewing in horror. This bus was completely out of control, destined for some horrible place, and we were in its clutches. I was a shy child and the prospect of actually speaking out loud to an adult was frankly terrifying. With sweaty palms and a cracking voice, I finally worked up the nerve to ask the bus driver where we were going and why we hadn't been dropped off. She squawked into her radio. The radio squawked back. It was clear a mistake had been made. She then revealed that there was nothing she could do because this bus was destined to pick up the Middle Schoolers. I broke into a cold sweat. Middle Schoolers.

We were going to have to wait it out and ride the bus with the middle school kids until the bus driver could loop back around and drop us off. She was understandably apologetic but nothing else could be done. Finally the moment of dread occurred and she let the doors open with a hiss. They piled in, all loud, coarse language, upper lips covered in awkward fuzz, grotesque heavy metal shirts, shaved legs, backpacks covered in Sharpie. It was like the bus filled with vikings. These were gigantic thugs, probably drug users, practically adults. Hoping to be unnoticed, Laurence and I sat very still and just waited for it to be over. Eventually one leaned over and said to my brother, "Hey! Hey! Are you a homosapien?" I stayed quiet, studying the vinyl seat back in front of me. I didn't know what this meant. Laurence didn't know what this meant. "Are you?" It was obviously offensive. "Leave him alone!" I snapped, showing a vestige of retaliation that would later be a teenage trademark. And that was that. We were left alone. We eventually, after hours of being on that wretched bus, were released into the early fall air to walk down the lane and find our worried aunt sitting with warming milk and Oreos. It had been a harrowing ordeal that we could hardly put into words. But we had survived.


Charisstopher said...

Oh my god. How have we never commiserated about how the time I hit my head out by the foursquare courts, was so dazed that I missed my stop, and then got so terrified by the highschoolers we picked up that I refused to get off when my (highschool) neighbor kindly tried to get me to go with him and had to take the bus to the the bus barn?! My mother was so confused.

Clearly we have much to discuss at romantic night.

Unknown said...

This is only slightly on topic, but once while riding the bus in elementary school I had to pee so badly that the bus had to stop to let me tinkle in the woods. I was so mortified by the event that for the remainder of the year I got a sudden urge to pee at the end of every school day and was purposefully excused to the bathroom just before boarding to go home. At my school, the elementary students rode the same bus as the middle schoolers. I didn't hear the end of it for a long time.

Unknown said...

Looks like I accidentally forgot to identify myself. Take a guess.

Rachel Wrong said...

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