I am waiting at the bus stop outside Wells Fargo for the Orange Route to pick me up. Orange Route comes…and goes. Wrong bus stop.
I stand waiting, thinking. A man with a camera takes pictures of 321. The chilled wind blows my hair, plastering half of it to my face. I think the man takes a picture of me. He looks nice–maybe a young photography student–I don’t mind. Maybe he thought the wind blowing my hair was pretty. Maybe he liked my jacket. Maybe that photo will help his portfolio. Maybe not. But it’s a nice thought.
The Red Route approaches. I’m cold so I climb aboard. I once promised myself I would ride all the Appalcart Routes before I graduate. Today I decide to explore one.
The bus has already taken us past Walmart, heading out of town. A woman with a sunflower tattoo on her neck holds a small child. He is content, but curious, as most children are. He cranes his neck every which way, like a sparrow looking for worms. I smile at him.
We pass an old, abandoned white barn. We pass the medical center. Now we stop to pick up a mother with a baby and another woman wrapped in a white blanket wearing fleece pajama bottoms. They sit in the back of the bus. The mother talks about the baby’s checkup, loudly.
The little boy drinks apple juice from a sippy cup. An older woman chewing gum stares straight ahead. A young woman with red hair stares longingly out the bus window. Maybe she has a lot on her mind. Maybe she is lonely. Or maybe, like me, she is relishing these few happy, quiet moments to herself.
We are looping back to Walmart. The woman with the baby talks loudly about the baby’s eating habits, disciplining children, paying rent. Now she sings Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Loudly. Off key.
We’ve stopped. The woman with the sunflower tattoo and the child get off the bus. We pass a garden on our right. I wonder who tends it. It is behind a group of apartments. If I lived there could I tend a small patch?
We are winding through back roads. A handful of passengers get off and on. I rest a few minutes from writing, enjoying observing the world around me. I jot down the names of a few apartment complexes.
The baby in the back is screaming now. Maybe she didn’t like the singing. An elderly gentleman climbs aboard and sits close to the front so he can converse with the driver. They are steady, old friends, I’ll wager. They discuss bus regulations, the weather, property taxes, Thanksgiving.
The thoughtful redhead climbs off the bus at Convocation Center as we head towards campus. As we drive up Library Circle, we pass the old graveyard at the top of a small hill. It reminds me of the promise I made to myself to explore it someday. I’ll let someday be another day.