the chorister's c




23 December 1997

There are certain tastes, smells, touches that most people find unpleasant, but because they are associated with something pleasant from my childhood, I rather like them.

When I was in grade school, I lived for almost five years with my grandparents in a smallish town while my mother worked in the city, about 30 miles away. Neither my grandparents nor I liked this arrangement. They grew weary of caring for a headstrong, uppity little boy. And I wasn't getting from them everything that I needed, whatever that was.

Each weekend I rode a Greyhound bus to stay with my mother for the two and a half days. I loved to ride the bus: it was my freedom, my ticket out of there, really. It was my escape from my grandparents and my time to visit my mom.

But I was also just fascinated with both legs of the round trip itself, and the sensations. The bustle of the Art Deco city bus station. Departure announcements that began with a stock recording, a man's measured bass-baritone, "May I have your attention please...", Gate 3 for Detroit, Gate 6 for Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis. Stale snack crackers from a vending machine. The onionskin of the multipart ticket. The smell of a half-dozen idling coaches pulled up at an angle under the station's canopy.

Sometimes the bus would be a bubble-topped SuperScenicruiser, with a step up as you worked your way to the back, down the aisle. Air conditioning drafting through slots under the window, which was also designed to be an emergency exit: you could put a finger loosely in each slot and feel the air slip around them. The predictability, the security of proceeding past the same flag stops each week, at the same time. Someone to meet you when you arrive.

So today, if I'm standing behind a Metrobus, I don't really mind it. Let a breath of diesel exhaust be my mouthful of a madeleine.

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©1998 David L. Gorsline.
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