Getting the bus

Public transport has played a major role throughout my life. In fact, given that I was born abroad, you could argue that without it I wouldn’t be where I am today. Literally. But just lately, it has been finding new ways to have a bit of a joke with me. So I thought I’d return the favour and write a blog post at its expense.

Since March 2018, I have been getting to grips with the bus. Having spent several years taking the train to uni, work experience, and my bookshop internship, I then got a job in a place that was only accessible by road. It still runs on wheels, I thought. How hard can it be?

After insisting to my parents I could get there unaccompanied on day 2 of my job, I then got onto the slower bus – the one I’d been advised NOT to take – and was late for work. Despite this, I was determined that this was just one slip up, and I definitely knew what I was doing now.

The following weeks disproved this. I didn’t realise I had to wave at the driver so I could get on. Or that I had to press a button to get off. I misinterpreted the ever-changing ETA* updates on the signs and gave up on many an incoming bus just because it temporarily disappeared from the sign. At this point, I thought: hey, it’s early days, this time next year, buses will feel just as straightforward as trains.

I’ll be honest – they don’t. Take last week, for example. My bus pass expired and I didn’t have enough cash. When I bought a regular return ticket, the driver was unable to print it, and said if I explained this to the driver on the way back, they’d understand. Come home time, the bus driver I saw refused to let me on without printed evidence. The irony was, this driver seemed unable to print tickets too.

When it’s not ambiguous rules, it’s the actual journey. Like when I sat down on a suspiciously wet, smelly seat. Or when I walked downstairs from the top of a double decker and overheard a bunch of teenagers saying “I would have laughed if she’d fallen over!”.

My most draining journey happened a few weeks ago, when 30 seconds after getting on, the heating broke down, and we were escorted onto another bus. The only downside to this bus was that it violently shook and made an ominous rumbling noise when accelerating, and so it was that we waited another 30 minutes on the A6 until another bus turned up. Choc full of people, with barely enough room to awkwardly stand backwards, not knowing what to hold onto.

By the end of the day, I’d had enough of my usual bus, and went for the slow bus instead. No problems there. But why it was covered with onions, I’ll never know.

Mercifully, it looks like I may be getting some respite from commuting – this coming Sunday, I will be lodging just a 15 minute walk away from work. Don’t get me wrong, I love leaving the house at 7.15 every morning to get two buses that are probably running late and full of screaming children. What’s not to love? I ask, sarcastically. But strangely, this has started to wear thin, so as I get re-accustomed to living away from home, watch this space!

 

 

*Estimated time of arrival

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Dear diary…

“Have just had my toughest experience ever: Mum sitting on me, squeezing my blackheads, with Rhian looking on!”

“Sometimes I wish time wouldn’t drag so, especially after the Easter hols…” 

Is this normal writing for a 13 year old?

My journals and I go back a very long way. Even as a kid, I loved the feeling of having a fresh new notebook, which I could decorate as frivolously as I wanted, before complaining to it about my life. And let’s face it, when you’re a teenager – and an autistic one trying not to be eaten alive by non-autistic ones, at that – there is a lot to complain about.

Actually, my first diary was more of a travel log, three days before I turned 11, just before adolescence became an issue. We were en route to New Zealand, and I was not letting a moment of our upcoming adventure go to waste. Amid jetlag from hell, day trips of a lifetime, and hours of travel by land, sea, and air, I was determined to write down everything we did. I don’t know why I wrote as if I was addressing the rest of my class at school (why the heck would they care how many bedrooms our third motel had?), but that aside, I’m glad I did it.

Since then, my journals have evolved considerably, and have seen me through nearly a decade of teenage angst, followed by my attempts at adulthood. Journaling is my main way of keeping myself writing every few days, and a testament to what a nerd I am is how I feel like I have a different relationship with each one, depending on a number of factors. Like how often I wrote. Or what stage of life I was at. Or how much written self-reflection I did. It makes me feel pretentious, putting it like that, but it’s true.

Through keeping it up, give or take a few slips, I’ve definitely benefitted a lot from journaling. For a start, it helps me remember. I love laughing at my old diaries! It also helps me regulate my thoughts and emotions, making them less overwhelming when I can see them on paper. I’ve written down hard learned life lessons, I’ve made important decisions through brainstorming, I’ve poured out my heart about many a difficult situation, and instantly felt calmer.

Most recently, I’ve come to realise that writing a diary has helped me be more honest with myself, because I can get my thoughts and feeling out without being heard. Or maybe practise getting them out until I’m ready for them to be heard. Sometimes I don’t feel like it, other times I get started and don’t stop for ages. Either way, it feels like a constructive habit, and if it keeps me writing and learning, long may it continue!

My diaries, minus my current one, two pocket notebooks, and a wad of cat shaped post it notes. Starting with my neon travel log, going clockwise, and finishing in the middle.