With more than a little trepidation, I climbed onto the bus. I’d never ridden a bus anywhere, so I sat right behind the bus driver, hoping that if I had any trouble, he’d be close enough to help me. I was in my early 20s, headed to somewhere important (although, I can’t remember where now), and carrying my treasure with me–a large manila envelope full of all my poetry. Scraps of papers, napkins from restaurants, yellow lined papers torn in two, a small wire-bound notebook filled with words, envelopes with my scribblings on the back. It was stuffed full of my poems and first attempts at writing from the age of eight or nine. I hugged my treasure for a while, and then set it on the seat beside me.
The scenery of Texas zoomed by as I tried to immerse myself in the different stories before me. A stooped elderly woman leaning on a cane, trying to cross the street–did she make it across? Kids riding bikes in the summer heat, not noticing or caring that their shirts were stained with sweat, their faces wet with streaks of dirt/mud. A woman dressed in shorts and a tank top, holding an opened umbrella above her head as she walked in the shaded walkway of a downtown area. Cattle in pastures, hugging trees for shade. I wondered what they would think if their owners installed a water spritz station to cool them off; would they like it or would they run like the dickens away from the spitting contraption? So much to see. So many stories to write.
“So much to see. So many stories to write.”
The bus stopped. Several people filed down the center aisle and departed the bus. While they did, I admired the scenery. It was only after the bus had started up again that I looked down on the seat next to me, where I had placed my treasure of poems. My manila envelope was gone! My heart stopped. I patted the seat as if maybe it would suddenly reappear. I slid to the floor and looked under both seats and the seats in front of me and behind me. I looked as far I could see, in front and back. But it was gone. Someone had swiped it up as they walked by. I imagined this person thinking he had stolen something valuable. Then he looked in it, found scraps of paper, read one out loud and, laughing at my silliness, tossed my treasure into the nearest waste bin.
I cried, of course. Quietly, so no one would see or hear me. My heart ached for my poems, for my loss.
To this day, I think of those poems. I tried re-writing them, sitting there on the bus, but I couldn’t remember but one, and it was sketchy. I thought the words I’d written would be with me forever. I’d love to go back and see them again. Today, when I write, because of technology, the words will be there for a long, long time, an old friend just waiting to be re-visited. And that makes me smile.