Missing the Bus

I am not a kindergartner, rushing outside on a cold and slushy morning, lugging a backpack half my size, just missing the school bus that didn’t wait. Repeat it until you believe it, Cate. You haven’t missed the bus.

You never know what emotional truths are waiting for you to raise the window shades in the morning on your way to feed the cat. I heard the driver honk the horn once, but pull away before mom, kindergartner, and preschooler could make it out the door in their snow gear. I immediately got caught up in their story, but not from the mom’s perspective. No, I was the little girl standing in her driveway wondering why the bus had gone. She had that look on her face: part confusion, part exasperation, part am-I-going-to-get-in-trouble-for-this.

I let myself feel that way far too often. Am I to blame? There have been a lot of missed buses in my life. There have also been buses I refused to get on, choosing to walk instead, or grab a ride with a friend. Those times I own—whether or not I reached my intended destination on time.  But the misses? They still haunt me apparently.

Why? I suspect it’s because I’ll never know for sure whether I would have been better off taking that ride when it was offered. Where I ended up might not be where that bus would have taken me. Was I just not ready in time? Was I slowed down by someone else? Was the driver impatient? (Who was the driver?) Why, after all these years, does it matter?

I’d like to believe it’s a sign that I’m learning something about hope. I can choose where I’m going from here. Even if it’s only to the cat’s dish, it’s still a choice, and I one make fresh every morning. I can tell that story about myself instead of the one that starts, “I missed the bus, now I’m stuck here feeding the cat.”

The bus came back for my neighbor. I don’t know whether her mom called the bus company or asked the preschool bus driver for help. Whatever spell she cast, it worked. Happy ending.

paths explored
roads not taken
bonds forged
old ties broken
a smile