Posts Tagged ‘childhood’


November 4th, 2009 2 comments

August 26, 2009

Green seats. Green plastic seats, with holes cut in them by the children of bygone years. An altogether different shade of green used for patches. Sometimes the patches were of another material akin to duct-tape and held on with glue. Other times the cut was deemed small enough that it could just be covered by the off-color goo. It never looked right. And it always looked old.

Some of the seats had odd lumps, and there was always the crappy seat that floated in the limbo between the wheel well and the seat in front. You always had to sit with your knees up in that seat. You always tried to ignore it and get another one. But sometimes you got there late and had to settle for the inferior set.

Me, I was a window sitter. I looked out the window and thought of what might be out there. I watched the land roll by as the bumps of the road and the cacophony of the other children blended into an overwhelming morass of sound and feeling. It was dark in the mornings during the winter, and I would watch the light rise from black to a dull grey of a wintery cloudy morning.

I watched the familiar scenes wash by and looked for the unique and surprising in the familiar. A bird on a fence post. A new driveway being cut. And sometimes I would notice a little something new where I had always seen before. The sattelite dishes of the radio tranlator. A new house tucked behind where I had never seen it before.

Sometimes there were new stops, new faces. I watched them get on the bus, watched where they sat. The kid with the dirty pants and tussled hair. The little girl that must be his sister — no two families moved into town at the same time.

The ride was calming, soothing. Just me and my thoughts. And sixty other children, all tired for the early hour but teeming with the sugar-blasted breakfast products shoveled down their throats. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know.

And there were bullies and socialites and dreamers like me. There were talkers and pokers and paper airplane flingers. There were annoying kids and fun kids and smelly kids that you didn’t want to sit with. There were window sitters and aisle sitters. I was a window sitter.

“What are you looking at?”

Over the years I heard that question many times. One kid in particular always asked me that question.

“Whatcha looking at, Lavering?”


“That’s stupid.”

It was a lame response, and I always knew it. I hated not having an answer. What was I looking at? The landscape, certainly. But that wasn’t it. I wasn’t looking at anything. But I was looking at everything. I didn’t have words to describe it.

I heard the question so many times over the years, and I thought that it was mean. They just wanted to tease me about something. They wouldn’t understand. They didn’t want to understand. So I kept to my safe “nothing”.

Then one day — I think it must have been in high school — I heard the question for the first time in a long time.

“Whatcha looking at, Lavering?”


For some reason I paused. Damn it, I’m tired of that answer. A few seconds passed, and I thought it over. I think it was the first time I actually, truly thought about the question.

“I don’t know. I’m just thinking.”

I waited for a snide remark.

“What are you thinking about?”

And the funny thing was, the question was genuine.

“Lots of things. Nothing in particular. I don’t know.” I think I had something better to say than that, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was that I was actually thinking about. I do remember that this was on the way home from school. It was the day after a wet day, when the sun was out amongst the clouds and the fields shone golden with a wet, musty undertone of brown. Dappled cloud shadows rolled across the fields and mountains and added a painterly look to everything.

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

That day surprised me. Sometimes people aren’t what you expect. Sometimes they really do get you. This was one of those times. The conversation wasn’t deep, it wasn’t long. In fact, it is one of the shorter and quieter conversations I have ever had. But it was right. Just two people understanding one another. And more than anything for me, one person understanding myself better. I turned back to my well-studied window — with its engraved manufacturer’s mark and the two finger-breaking latches that served to open it in hot weather — and I looked out at something. My thoughts were slow to come after that. Perhaps they were aprehensive for being known. But they came, and soon I was awash again in a world of my own imagining.

And the bus rolled on down the road towards home.