Cleaning the Bus

I start to think about the kids that rode this bus as I peel back the rubber floor mats, their things left behind emerging from the pencil shavings and grime. I find a few treasures: a small, plastic black assault rifle, no bigger than a quarter, that was undoubtedly used to torment the girls in the seat across from the boy who wielded this sharp shooter; a small stone charm wrapped with brass wire, lost by a daughter whose Boonie mother made it for her; pixie stick wrappers and those red plastic utensils that came with the cheese and cracker snack--remnants of a sugar rush that came and went. This bus forces me to think about a part of my childhood that I hardly ever find reason to think about. What happened there in those formative years? I remember being anxious almost all the time. I can almost feel my growing pains again, pulling apart both my knees. I remember enjoying crafts and trips to museums, my amateur photography and writing. I remember not having to ride the bus so often because my dad so enjoyed driving us to our activities. He never minded, he said. He enjoyed talking to us. I can remember those car rides before any crusty memory of riding the bus. I think about my dad and how I wish he was down here to sit and chew the fat with me while my fingers dig against the metal, sorting through memories. I start picking up loose change. I count $2.42 in lunch money before I reach the seat just behind the bus driver: a dollar coin. I have to laugh out loud to myself. My dad use to bring these home when he had traveled, getting them as change on the parkway or the transit. I would hold on to them, only spending them if I really had to. $3.42. I get a good feeling about everything on this bus. The feeling you get when you remember something you've mistakenly forgotten. And for a moment, I feel my heart catching and something healing.