As I got on the bus, they giggled behind a Route 30 map. They wondered where they had gotten on, which stop was that? How would they know when they were supposed to get off? What if the driver didn’t stop? Should they ask the driver? Should they not? Aren’t these seats itchy? Doesn’t it feel like it’s giving you a rash?
It didn’t take me long to recognize them. They were me, about six years ago. Two new college roommates, who barely knew a soul and had just set up camp together in a tiny room on a big campus in a strange new city. They were clinging to each other and thinking they’d be best friends, not anticipating Cold Wars of attrition over who’d finally take out the trash, or that perhaps one of them would have an affinity for Jock Jamz while the other preferred Indie Rock, or that one might be nocturnal, and the other, well, normal. (OK, so I’m projecting, my first college roommate didn’t work out so well!)
I wondered if they’d been having scavenger hunts and raffles. If they’d endured an awkward sex talk with a dean. If they’d identified a cute boy that they thought they might like to date, having no idea that by the end of the next year he’d be a best friend, but more interested in dating men. (OK, so that happened to me too.) I wondered if there had been awkward name games. If they’d been to that first party yet, the one where they tested those mom-will-never-know-limits. I wondered if they’d just spent the summer meeting their true love, now left wondering what would happen next. I wondered if they were just SURE of their major, only to later change it three times. I wondered if they had any idea what was ahead of them.
Of course they didn’t.
But they had each other, they had a map, they were determined to make their way to Target, and they’d get there together. I helped them figure out where they’d get off, and I went back to my reading, eavesdropping on their conversation, smiling, realizing what was only six years ago for me already seems more than a lifetime ago.
The bus could barely contain their enthusiasm.