Sunday, February 15, 2015

BUS STORY # 432 (Grade School Reunion)

"Feel the beat," by Lester

If I’ve got to remember, that’s a fine memory.
-- Leonard Cohen, from “Tonight Will Be Fine.”

My eighth grade girlfriend and first true love of my life got on the bus this morning and took the seat right in front of me. Well, not the same girl, but a girl who looked so much like her that my heart did a single beat double-take. It used to just run away with itself every time I saw her back in the day. She was the first girl I ever kissed -- on the cheek, but I was left stunned senseless after succumbing to the impulse.

She looked like her old self, same round, sweet face, and she looked like herself in this day and age, her face now with make-up, lightly applied, really, but which made her look slightly removed from the girl I remembered. She was still wearing the the same blonde-brown ponytail, except the ponytail now fell in permed waves, and her hair was color-streaked with blonde.

Her ears were now pierced, too, the right three times, two in the lobe and one in the upper ear. That was a surprise. I could see the loops in her lower ears, but could only see the backing for what must have been a stud in the upper right ear.

Her left ear held a white earbud, attached by a white cord to a black smart phone which she scrolled through and paused, scrolled through and paused, throughout her ride. I’m trying to think if she would have been allowed to have a smart phone back then, and I think maybe not. And I think she wouldn’t have argued or pouted about it, even if she were disappointed.

Her blouse was white, with a scalloped collar, something she would have worn back then if not for the school uniform. I didn’t notice her black pants or white athletic shoes until she got off at UNMH and walked south toward the UNM campus. I liked her better in her skirt and her bobby sox and saddle oxfords. But she was a college coed now, and all that grade school uniform stuff was history.

Before we got to her stop, she grabbed a backpack and stuffed her phone and earpiece into it. There may or may not have been books in there; I couldn’t tell. But I have a distinct memory of the way she and all the other girls carried their books on top of a blue, three-ring note binder, stacked in the crook of the left arm. We boys carried the same books and binders, but we carried them differently, down by our sides. I remember when we were younger, we carried them in old army surplus back packs, but somewhere along the line, backpacks became uncool and not big kid.

She was not at our fiftieth class reunion. I was quietly disappointed, but I had a great time, maybe because I wasn’t distracted. So it was good to see her this morning, looking like those fifty years hadn’t happened, and for a heartbeat, making me feel again what it was like to see her when we were both young and had no idea where it would all end up. I’m glad neither of us decided to take the car this morning.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Feel the beat,” and is posted with the permission of Lester. You can see all Lester’s photos on Flickr here.


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