Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Bus Family

One of the great benefits of riding the bus is the chance to read a book, daydream, listen to music or just generally get inside your head. The regional buses are pretty good for napping as well, which I usually do as I listen to music on the way to Longmont every Monday to see Jessica and Petra. The humming of the tires and the swaying of the bus can have a hypnotic effect, and it’s not uncommon to be so engrossed in relaxing that you miss your stop. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but a matter of when.

There’s a physical reaction that occurs when a stop is missed, and it’s pretty easy to spot the symptoms before the rider actually speaks out, which they always do, usually in the form of some kind of curse words. It must be some kind of muscle memory, because our bodies sense that we have traveled too far, and sends a message to our brain. The first sign a rider has missed their stop is the look of confusion as they lift their head from their book or take their earphones out. They look around the bus, then they lean over to look through the windows at the surroundings passing by. They they look to the front of the bus at the bus number and the next stop that is displayed on a lighted screen. It ultimately ends with a desperate look to fellow passengers, and the question of “where are we?”

At that point, the bus comes alive with suggestions of back-up plans. Which bus to take at the next stop, whether to ride on and wait for a turnaround, or sometimes the bus driver just stops at an unauthorized spot to let the traveler off. I once had a driver on the 27 bus who knew we would be going through a detour, but none of us did. When she left the station and turned the wrong direction, all of us reacted the same way, and as she looked in her mirror at her bus full of panicked faces, she laughed and laughed.

Last week as we were nearing my stop on the L bus in Longmont, I noticed the driver was not in the left-hand turning lane, which took us the two blocks over to my stop. I figured he was taking a detour, as he had done earlier to get us through some construction. As we traveled through the light, all the passengers looked up and took notice. We looked at each other questioningly as the driver drove farther from our stop.  “Aren’t we supposed to turn here?” One asked. “I thought so, maybe we’re on a detour.” Offered another. We went another several blocks before the lady in front of me finally spoke out.

“Driver, weren’t we supposed to turn there?” Halfway through her sentence the driver let fly a cuss word. The look on his face was the same, well known look of passengers who had gotten so absorbed in their thoughts they forgot to get off the bus. He quickly pulled into the left turn lane and headed back toward our stop, apologizing all the way.

“On Hell. I’m so sorry. I totally spaced that turn.”

“No worries.” We told him. “It happens all the time. Thinking about something good?”

“Music.” He named a specific song that I was not familiar with. “I played it for my teenager the other night and he wasn’t impressed. I was trying to figure out if I played it wrong, or if I could do it better.” He apologized again as we neared our stop.

We all reassured the driver as we exited the bus that it was no big deal, it had happened to all of us, and jokingly told the remaining passengers to keep an eye on him to keep him on the right track.

Bus family, they always have your back.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Responsibility

It was another exciting Grammy day with Petra, and the playland at McDonalds was hoppin’ with activity. Most of the older kids had gone back to school, so the place was full of grandparents and smaller children. My little charge was sporting a new dress, compliments of her Aunt Mihyun and Uncle Nathan. Unable to decide which pair of flip-flops best completed the ensemble, she was wearing two different flip-flops, and was adamant about placing them neatly in the shoe bin.There was another young girl with an equally puffy dress, and she and Petra took turns jumping off the step and watching their dresses fly up. I think they believed they were flying. A trio of older children showed up, and the girl, about seven or so, immediately took to Petra and the other young one, and as happens with little and big girls, they quickly formed the dynamic of the older girl helping the younger ones scale the slide, crawl over the fences, and generally being at their beck and call.

I relaxed and sipped my diet Coke and took the chance to do some people watching. The older girl had two brothers, pretty close in age, with the older boy being around eight or nine. I think they were involved in a child exchange, as the mom sat in the lobby and the father came in to have lunch with the kids. After eating, the man stood up and announced he had to get back to work, and the kids hugged him and he left the playland.

A few seconds later there was an incredibly loud wailing sound coming from the back of the playland. Myself, and several other Grammies, instinctively covered our ears as we realized someone had breached the security of the playland doors, and the increasingly loud sound was that of the emergency alarm, letting us know someone had tried to escape. The kids scattered like rats, each one running to their guardian with scared looks on their faces. Petra immediately took a seat next to me, and looked at me with eyes that said “I didn’t do it.”

None of the kids seemed afraid, but they all seemed to naturally know that someone had done something wrong, and it was important to them that it be known they hadn’t done it. They looked at each other wide-eyed and accusingly. I noticed the young boy I had seen with his father earlier stood nervously by the door. His cheeks were red with embarrassment, but he didn’t flee. His eyes darted around to all of us, probably looking for whoever was in charge. I expected him to split as soon as no one addressed him, but he nervously paced back and forth in front of the door. I finally made eye contact with him, and he seemed relieved to confess his sin. He was clearly afraid of whatever consequences came with opening a security door.

“I did that. That was me.” He said, on the verge of tears.

“Aw, well, it was bound to happen. No worries,” I tried to make him feel better.

“I was saying good bye to my dad,” He explained as the alarm continued to blare. He stood his ground even as he looked around, waiting for the authorities to come take him away for committing such a horrendous crime. Finally, the lobby guy who cleans the playland, an elderly gent, sauntered into the playland and slowly worked his way across the room to the door. He inserted a key, turned it and the alarm ended. It clearly wasn’t the first time someone had opened the forbidden door, and I don’t think he even cared who did it.

But that young boy did. He was adamant about owning up to his mistake, and equally adamant about taking any punishment that came with it. He stood directly in front of the  older man and confessed again.

“That was me. I did  that. I was trying to say good bye to my dad.” He waited silently for his punishment.

“Well, don’t touch the security doors.” And with that, the old man went back to work and the young man breathed a sigh of relief and a big grin spread over his face. He had owned his crime, confessed to his sin, and was let off with a warning. He had to feel pretty good about himself. He had done the right thing.

Our country’s leaders, celebrities and athletes could learn a thing or two about maturity and integrity from this young fellow. And he wasn’t even ten years old yet.

August 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Family Traditions

I don’t remember how old I was the first time my parents took me and my siblings camping at Spirit Lake. I do know I can’t remember ever not going to Spirit Lake in the summer when I was a kid. So I’m going to say it’s been about 40 years that I have been participating in this family tradition. For the past 20 years I have been taking my own daughter,Jessica, and the past two years have included the attendance of my granddaughter, Petra.

Spirit Lake is not for everyone, as the air is thin, there is no running water and cooking breakfast can be a morning-long event. Coffee is made over Coleman stoves or an open fire, dinner often involves a stick and some sort of processed meat, and the main source of entertainment is a trip to the lodge to see what everyone else is up to. There is no reason to rush at Spirit Lake, and the altitude has been blamed for killing brain cells, thus removing any thoughts of stress, angst or irritation of everyday life. Life is good there, and sometime in my life Spirit Lake became “my” place. All of my friends have made the trip with me to experience the magic, at least once, although apparently not everyone is as enchanted with the place as I am.

This year’s trip began with some mild drama, as Jess and I vehemently argued with the navigational app lady who sent us circling the I-70 on ramp rather than just getting us on our way. After a little cursing, wondering and a few blocks, we turned her off and relied on Jess’s atlas. We had a relaxing drive across Colorado, en route to pick up my childhood friend Kathy. Kathy is one of my trusted “Grand Council” members, and has had a great influence on Jessica’s life. I knew this trip would not only be entertaining, it would be epic.

This trip was a “girls only,” at least for the first four days. After which time Robert and Jess’s significant other would be joining us. After stopping in Vernal for food and provisions, we headed to Spirit Lake in separate cars. I had Petra in tow in hopes she would nap along the way, and Kathy and Jess tied up some loose ends in town. As soon as I turned off Highway 191 onto the road to Spirit Lake, I rolled down the windows and inhaled the fresh air.

The next few days were pretty much the ultimate Hen party, full of hours sitting around the fire, hiking through the woods, cooking, cleaning up and generally doing a whole lot of nothing. Petra made friends with the little girl whose parents were running and living at the lodge, and we made friends with just about anybody who passed our campfire. We took our annual boat ride, which involves me protesting loudly and adamantly about my fears and the lack of safety of boats. Jessica won, as usual, and I found myself with a death grip on Petra as the four of us rowed about the lake. Naturally Petra was not okay with me holding onto her life jacket, and insisted I “move away” so she could sit by her mom and be a big girl.

People from all over the world come to Spirit Lake, and most of them begin their conversations with “last time I was here.” One morning I was taking a short cut along the stream toward the lodge to get some water, and as I came around a corner I came within about ten yards of a giant male moose. Moose are a common sighting at Spirit Lake, and my family  has had several run-ins with them, but this was my first up-close encounter. I slowly backed away and headed up another trail, which took me directly through another camp. As I reached the edge of the camp I came upon two young boys, about eight or nine I would guess.

“Sorry,” I said. “But there’s a moose in my path so I have to go around.” The oldest of the two got a scared look on his face, his eyes got big and he looked toward where I had just come from.

“When I was here last year there were 50 mooses.” He said enthusiastically.

“Oh wow, that’s a lot,” I said.

“Yeah, and I wasn’t scared at all.” He said proudly. “But this year, I asked Siri about moose,” He paused and blew out a breath dramatically as he ran his fingers through his hair. “And Sheeeesh. Sheeeesh.” It was clear Siri had taught him about his previously unknown dangers of moose. He quickly went the other direction, back toward his camp and the safety of his father’s supervision.

The trip gave me plenty of time to ponder. Mostly about my life. My life now, my life when I was younger, and my life when I was young. There was a moment when Jessica and Petra were standing out on the dock looking into the lake, that it was clear to me each phase of my life, at least vicariously, was present at Spirit Lake this year. I remembered being there as a child, then as a young mother in charge of a child, and now as a grandmother in charge of a young mother who is in charge of a young child. The dynamic kind of blew my mind, and brought tears to my eyes. It’s long been said that “the minute we are born we begin dying,” and naturally as I grow older I can’t help but fear my ultimate future, which, like everyone else, ends with death.

But watching those two–my child and my grandchild–standing on the dock, I was overcome with a sense of peace, almost joy, as I realized that ultimately I will never be completely dead. I caught a glimpse into the future, and saw generations upon generations standing on that dock. Parents holding their children’s hands, and the little one saying “Mommy, tell me again about Grammy Deans…”

 

 

August 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment