Saturday, February 21, 2009

up north

The bus to St Paul was one hour late picking us up. This would not be hugely significant, except for the fact that waiting at the bus stop on a day where the temps were well below freezing was bracing. I did a little side step and chanted this is good for me most of the hour.

I may have otherwise bonded with all the students waiting with us (Madison and Minneapolis are quite the student exchange towns), but I forgot to be friendly as I considered the possibility of freezing at the Dutch Mill park & ride. Many bragged of past multi-hour waits and the prospect of competing in the future in this kind of exchange was frightening.

When the bus did come, I was sure to get on right away. Why go on a long bus ride with your Occasional Traveling Companion if you cannot sit next to him? The bus was already half full with weary travelers from Chicago, but being near the head of the line (it helps traveling without luggage – Ed and I are good at that) landed us seats together in the front row.

Unfortunately, I decided this particular driver needed help and so I took on the task of driving right along with him. When he spoke on the cell phone (extensively), I made sure to watch out for cars. When he chose to steer with his elbows (frequently), I sat taught, ready to take over and move the bus in the right direction should the need arise.

Halfway to the Twin Cities we paused at a truck stop. He said this was a lunch break (clearly the man suffered jetlag, among other things), and that we should use the next twenty minutes to eat at Wendy’s. The entire bus emptied out and came back with French fries and such. I stayed behind and remembered what it felt like when I went to Catholic camp in Poland and everyone went to church while I stayed at the campsite minding the tents. I’m not saying that Wendy’s is like church, although surprisingly, for the purposes of this post, the analogy holds.

I thought now how easy it would be to jump into the driver’s seat and pull away when they were all gone.

The driver took more than twice the allotted (by him) time to purchase his own snacks and so we were, in the end, quite late pulling into Minneapolis. My friends were waiting for us. It was snowing and I can only hope that sitting in a car and watching flakes come down was, for them, sort of romantic.

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We spent wonderful moments at the table eating and drinking and talking and I hardly noticed when Ed slipped out and retired upstairs. In any case, they know Ed well enough to understand that unusual periods of retirement are part of the package,

This morning, while the house slept, I looked out to see what Minnesota is like on a February 21st. You’d expect tall conifers and white snow, wouldn’t you? Hmm.

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