7:15 am. We’re out the door. This would be my hard line if I were to have a hard line, which I don’t because I have a toddler.
I do really try to be on the bike before 7:20 otherwise I start to get anxious about the bus taking off without us. I pull the bike out of the garage and load Eli into his seat. So many straps and snaps! It feels like it takes 10 minutes just to get him strapped in. It probably takes 1.
But it does take 7 minutes to bike to the bus station. There’s always a small thrill as I descend our driveway with Eli at my back, a breeze on our skin; its Freedom and Adventure and they are good companions for my morning commute amongst a busy street of passing cars. There’s no problem integrating among the cars but I am always cautious and on alert. I fiddle with my gears as I pedal up an incline. Each day I’m improving but I still huff. We pass train tracks and Eli keeps a lookout for a train. “No trains today!” he calls out. “Maybe tomorrow,” he says, “maybe in Springtime.” As I pull up and around to the station our bus has just arrived and there are a few passengers mulling about outside chatting and finishing their cigarettes. I load the bike onto the bus, a process that still plagues me. You see, there are two slots for a bike on the rack. I’m supposed to load the bike into the slot closest to the bus. But if I do that then the bike seat is right in the bus driver’s line of vision. I think better of that and end up rotating the bike so the seat is on the other side of the window. But then the front wheel is not locked in, because it tells me that the front wheel should be on the passenger side in the slot closest to the bus. So now I’m not following the directions. And I never know which is better, to have the front wheel locked, or the bike closest to the bus, or does it even matter to the driver that the seat is in view? One day I’ll ask a driver. That day is not today. I simply fret about it as usual.
I always keep my bus pass in my right coat pocket. I take it out and set it against the orange machine until I hear the beep and my fare is counted. Eli rides free with me until kindergarten. We sit and watch the bus fill up with the regulars.
There’s Sherri who calls everyone “honey,” has one good front tooth and works at Price Chopper, the first stop on the route. Unlike most people we encounter, she doesn’t have any kids or grandkids. Somehow this seems remarkable.
Yesterday I met a man my husband’s age who has 10 grandchildren. All he wants, he told me, is a picture of the grandkids, his kids, and his ex (the matriarch). That would make him happy.
Chris is another regular, a young man, always eager to help me out. I remember struggling with my stroller one morning (which I took to cart Eli around before I got the bike) when out of nowhere this man’s hand descended from above and reached out to take it up the bus steps for me. He’s a gem.
Amy is boisterous and friendly. She loves to chat at full volume and is always eager to talk about how cute Eli is. I am happy to oblige her. She’s a car detailer by trade and recently told me that the worst job was a car that came in the morning after someone’s 21st birthday. You can guess.
Seth wears dark glasses and prefers black. Even for his tea mug. He keeps to himself at the back of the bus but couldn’t help but beam with pride when he told me about how his 10 year old daughter will be showing some of her artwork at the Berkshire Museum soon.
The bus stops for Manuel down the block. He’s Hispanic and probably in his late-50s. He adores Eli and they make faces at each other and laugh. I want to be able to communicate with him but my Spanish isn’t very good. I remind myself to study it soon.
7:55 am. We arrive in Lenox and we’re the only ones to get off at this stop. Many passengers have already departed. I take down the bike from the rack which has mercifully not fallen off the bus despite my disobedience. We wave to Carol, our driver most days, and we take off on the bike down the street to daycare.
8:05 am. I have dropped Eli off and am en route to work. The way there is mostly downhill and I coast down a large chunk of the 2 mile commute. When I drove to work I would factor in a walk from the parking lot to the office because the staff lot was a long way away up a hill behind the building. Now that I arrive by bike, I enjoy great parking right next to the building! I feel like a kind of VIP, who may or may not be sweaty by this point so not a glamorous VIP, but a well parked one, nonetheless.
8:17 am. I’m logged in at work and ready to start my work day. Coffee or tea time!
Door to door is about an hour but it doesn’t feel that long with so many small legs of the trip that make up the commute. It’s enjoyable, I’m getting exercise, and spending quality time with my son. Win-win-win. I’ve heard this called “stacking” where activities are bundled together to make life more efficient. Like listening to an audio book while you do the dishes or drive. I find biking and busing to be an easy way to stack activities I have always wanted to do but wasn’t making the time for. Now, it’s simple! I get on the bike or bus and three or four things are done.