Riding the Bus Home
After assembly in our homerooms and the official calling into the office for your smacks on the ass if you had misbehaved intolerably, the announcements for the next day and blah blah blah, the bell would ring and you were sprung free for the day.
We erupted through the two back doors of the building like projectile navy blue vomit the scene much like most high schools, I imagine. You either climbed on the bus, jumped into a car and burnt rubber out of there, or found your mother and/or someones mother and carpooled home.
I, for the first two years, climbed on one of the three city buses - since we were a private school we did not have Big Yellow Buses at our disposal, I believe they contracted with the city - got my ticket punched and found a seat among the yelling, screaming, writhing, gyrating teenage soup of blue and white. Usually I sat with Laura or Josie and endured the ride downtown. It was always an ordeal, no matter what.
I have blocked it from my memory.
Once downtown the bus deposited us at the corner of Broadway and Main. There was a 5&10 situated there and we would either slip in there for a coke, or go across the street to the bakery to purchase a cookie to split between us.
Downtown is where most kids transferred to other city buses to carry them home to their final destination.
But not me.
I trudged on down to the other end of Main Street and turned north, maybe I would turn north after going into the record store and checking out all the new LP's that arrived that week, then I would turn north and head up to the Greyhound Bus station.
Yes, my mother would not travel the 15 or so miles each afternoon to collect me from a school she was forcing me to attend. Oh no, she made me ride the Grey Hound Bus home each and every afternoon until I was a Junior.
My freshman year I was accompanied by K. K. was several years older than me and he too endured the ride on the Greyhound to Mayberry just for the privilege to attend Catholic High School. He was my partner in crime for that one year.
I never laughed so hard as I did with him on those rides home. I laughed until my sides ached and my jaws hurt. I am certain we disturbed every adult who rode on the that bus with us. At 3:50 it would leave the station and head towards Mayberry with a stop here and there along the way.
No one was spared our scrutiny and our obnoxious observations. We were brutal in our assessments of the people we rubbed shoulders with briefly and, unfortunately for a few, daily. We threw stuff at each other, we rehashed our day at school in high voices, we talked about our peers at school and what devious deeds they had been up to that day and then laughed like hyenas.
We cringed in horror at the grease spots on the windows that some poor soul, just trying to catch a few winks, would lay his head on the glass and dream. We would push each others head at the stains and shriek in disgust.
My friend K. can recite the entire itinerary as given over the loud speaker in the station. He remembers a lot more than I do. He rode the bus a total of three years, I only two. He remembers certain riders that climbed on daily with us.
Why they did not get us permanently kicked off I will never know. Maybe people were more tolerant back in those days.
K. would get off miles from town, at a country intersection where his mother waited in their family station wagon. He would ring the bell, stumble down the aisle because I more than likely tripped him and exit, leaving me alone, the bus oddly silent. Blessedly peaceful.
I would step off at the bus station in Mayberry and walk home from there.
I would see the Bus Station from time to time in Lexington and feel something tighten in my chest. Maybe it was the glimpse of the ghost of a young silly girl, in her navy blue sweater and pleated skirt rolled up at the waist, in her saddle oxfords and white bobby socks, running up the steps just barely in time to catch the bus, tears of hysterical laughter running down her cheeks as she chased after her friend K, who had her Latin book held above his head and threatening to toss it.