It was a rainy Tuesday morning in July – the kind that feels and looks like a rainy Tuesday morning in November, but no one says that because the only thing keeping summer here is the fact that we aren’t saying it isn’t, like fearful worshippers of a very elusive sun.
The bus, therefore, was packed full of kids and tourists and professionals and then, at her stop, people leaving the cancer-wing at the hospital.
We were dancing that awkward dance of making sure we were all sitting or standing in the right spot; older people and pregnant woman at the front, kids a little further back and selfless uber-fit pioneers of valour upstairs.
I was at the very back of the bus; that seat where only the aisle is in front of you, and you feel both very far away from the world and also as though, at each halt of the bus, you may go flying through the windscreen. I like to live on the edge.
She got on last. By the time she had joined the awkward sitting dance, the only downstairs seat available was next to me, in the back of the bus. She slowly made her way down through shaking and jolting, passed tall shoulders and holiday backpacks, gripping each pole as she shuffled by. It didn’t look easy. It looked hard. She looked down the whole way.
But then, as she got to the step up to her seat, she looked up and right at me. “Adventure!”
“Are you OK to get up there?” I ask.
“Well, maybe. We’ll see!” she says with a giggle.
She had a black leather granny handbag with a neatly-packed umbrella in it. Her ears were adorned with hearing aids and pearls clustered with gold. Her little raincoat was neat and pressed, and her shoes were sensible. Her hair, white and receding, was perfectly combed. But her smile was the best part about her. It set her face and everything around her alight. “Adventure.”
I woke up this morning with my own busy bus aisle to walk through. It is hard. I don’t want to even think about walking down it, let alone give it a shot.
But then, “adventure.” What if it works out? What if I make it to my seat? What if doing what is hard is worth it?