Today I drove the school mini bus to help a friend out who had recently had some surgery on her foot. She is teaching a summer school class on Chicago and today was a field trip to the Chicago History Museum. I love driving this bus. Every part of it is overblown and super-sized. It’s clunky and noisy and many parts of it rattle, shake, and bounce whenever it goes over any bump in the road (and in Chicago there are plenty of those). On the drive, the students sang, chatted, joked, laughed — all very loudly. They had to be loud because everything on the bus made so much noise. I tried to have a conversation with my friend but found my voice getting hoarse. Somehow this racket and chaos were all very comforting.
Today I had to park the bus in a normal car lot after I dropped the kids and my friend off at the museum and I have to admit, with the super big mirrors (there are six of them in total) I gained a new level of confidence delicately moving that big machine to fit between the yellow demarcated lines in the parking lot, even including the huge mirrors which thrust beyond the left and right of the bus. A real sense of accomplishment.
The students played a silly and repetitive counting game, like a zen mantra, which orchestrated the ride back to school (No, it wasn’t “99 bottles of beer on the wall”). Maybe like the kids, I gained a sense of freedom too driving that bus. It’s all pretty liberating galumphing down Lake Shore Drive in a jalopy of a bus, on a breezy summer day, accompanied by a clamorous chorus of adolescent pandemonium, proving the cliched (but true!) adage that it’s all about the journey, not the destination.