The Bus Stop

…Sometimes I had to ride the bus home from school. The bus stop was at the church about a 15-minute walk from our house – maybe shorter if you hustled. I never hustled, because I hated this walk. It was hot out, muggy to the point that I felt suffocated. I was also bored and resentful of being alone with my own anxious thoughts. On some days, I would take a large piece of gravel from the church parking lot and kick it all the way home as a way to keep my mind occupied. Once in awhile, I’d kick the rock too hard, sending a sharp, thumping pain through the tip of my big toe and down into my foot. I used to play another game that I called “the time game” where I would try to pinpoint exactly what it felt like two seconds earlier when it was two seconds later. There was no marijuana on this walk, but the fact that I had thoughts like that made me wonder if I wasn’t getting some sort of contact high from the elderly hippies I passed about two minutes after leaving the church. The whole holler smelled like exhaust fumes from ATVs driven by boys my brother’s age. My niece was with me on this walk nearly every day during middle school. She was only three years younger than me because I was born late in my mother’s life while she was born early in hers. I vaguely remember us bickering the whole way, thought I can’t remember what about. I bet I was cantankerous, even as an 11-year-old, and she was annoying. It’s strange to think that she and I had such a daily shared experience while now our lives couldn’t be more different. She has two kids and I’m living in Oakland…

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