Three of us managed to fit, despite our bulky, winter gear. The top of our arms firmly touched. I felt the rhythm of another’s breathing and smelled the scent of coffee with each exhale. No seats remained. I stood up and offered my cramped spot to a woman who boarded bus number 225. I figured out how to position my feet just right and to hang on to the overhead straps in hopes that I wouldn’t slip on the wet floor. The commuter bus was always packed on snowy days, with new faces who unanimously decided that the roads were too treacherous to attempt on their own.
A core group of folks unfailingly rode the bus. We were members of the unofficial “225 Club”. We coined our daily excursion as a “party on the bus”. We didn’t even miss party food. Each day we mingled and shared life.
I knew I’d have a glorious day when I sat next to Maureen, a beautiful lady who smelled good, and was gutsy enough to wear brightly colored lipstick and fabulously, large hoop earrings. I found out that Donna never received nor sent an email in her entire life and I met her after work at the public library to help her create her first email account. Then there was Kitty, a champion square dancer who regaled us with stories of her trips abroad. Merle, a retired engineer, rode the bus to town to study history at the university and those that could attended his graduation commencement. Leslie dressed mostly in shades of purple and invited us all to her house for our annual holiday gala. I found out that Bonnie and I personally knew the same person who traveled with his family in the 1980’s across America in a covered wagon. Wayne, likely the longest standing member of the club, retired from his career as a graphic artist and we dressed up in our best and joined him at his retirement breakfast. Terry, an athletic lady, always rode her bicycle to the bus stop and securely attached her bike to the front of the bus in record time.
Eventually, I announced I was pregnant. My bus friends immediately began to plan a baby shower. Eventually, I no longer offered up my seat to others.
A few months later, my husband and I moved with our baby to a nearby town and I had no choice but to ride another bus to work. The back seats on the bus were so elevated that I couldn’t see who sat in front or behind me. My companions became books and I could easily plow through several novels a month. I could hardly wait to board the bus, just to get a chance to read.
In time, I met a woman, whose name escapes me, and I sacrificed my love of books on the bus, to begin a friendship. She invited me to attend her calligraphy club, just one week before I moved three states away.