High Street Mornings

I wouldn’t have trouble making “that 9:30 lecture” this morning. I woke up at 4:30. I’m typing this now with a first coffee at just after 6 AM.

We know it isn’t just university students who’ve returned to school. We live on our Hertfordshire village’s high street, which is a busy stretch of road in the morning and late afternoon “rushes” (and it’s officially 30 MPH, and if some few idiots insist on speeding – as they do – they’ll be a speed camera here eventually because that’s how this country is). The rest of the day, it’s an unpredictable flow.

Our village high street, Hertfordshire, England, seen from my office about 6:30AM today. Still quiet. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Our village high street, Hertfordshire, England, seen from my office, about 6:30AM today. Still quiet. [Photo by me, 2016.]

There’s also a bus stop right in front of our house. Mostly it’s only lightly used, with the exception of weekday mornings when a few dozen teens in the same school uniforms appear from every direction and congregate on the sidewalk (“pavement” in English) to wait for a bus that passes around 8 AM. They don’t generally have “yellow” school buses here in England; kids use the public buses. (At that, some American parents clutch their chests; but it is safe.)

I’m usually making my second coffee around that time. The bus stop is “twenty feet” or so in front of our kitchen sink window. (Being a high street, you can look right into our window from the sidewalk as well.) Seeing “social interactions” among the kids is, at times, hilarious. The memories it brings back.

View from our kitchen. There's a bus shelter across the street for buses going the opposite way, but not one on our side. [Photo by me, 2016.]
View from our kitchen. There’s a bus shelter across the street for buses going the opposite way, but not one on our side. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The girls generally stand together. The boys are together separately. The path entrance to the walk to our front door usually provides a rough “neutral zone” between the groups, but now and then they do mix and talk, or laugh at each other and point, or some such. When it rains, there is less obvious “chatter” and also always one kid standing there without an umbrella or a hood – and that is invariably a boy. Some things never change.

And rain or shine everyone’s looking intermittently at their phones. Which is a big change from back in “my day.” We didn’t have phones to pretend to distract us at the school bus stops.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a football.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a football.

I recall a decaying Nerf football we’d kept hidden under someone’s front lawn shrub. We often tossed that around – boys and sometimes girls, too – while waiting for our school bus. That was quiet suburban backroads Long Island, New York, of course; there isn’t room on the English street here to throw around – or kick – a ball of any kind.

When our bus arrived, there was also often some smart aleck – always a boy – who tried to throw the ball through an open bus rear window. (If that was me, I generally had pretty good aim.) The driver – usually a Mrs. “Someone” we knew well because we saw her nearly every day – would yell at us: “Put the football down you! Come on!” If the “quarterback” got it through the window, someone already on the bus would toss it back out, and one of us hid it under the same shrub before boarding so the ball would be there again the next day. (That man who owned that house apparently never did any gardening under that bush between September and June.)

As I think back on that now, today somebody would surely get detention for dangerous behavior, or because we’d broken some “zero tolerance” school rule that banned ball-tossing in the street at school bus stops without a parent holding our hand. Or something like that. I wouldn’t want to be “14” again.

God, I sound like such an old guy all of a sudden. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, back to work now:

Sneak Peek from "Conventions." Click to expand.
Sneak Peek from “Conventions.” Click to expand.

I’m taking that real 1794 (original French) letter and fictionalizing it for a scene in Conventions. She loves her American boyfriend; but she can’t have him. It’s quite poignant and sad reading – even at over 200 years’ distance – of what were real-life, crushed hopes.

On a far more pleasant and current note, I have been privileged to have a slew of new followers here in recent days. I’m not entirely sure what I’ve done recently that’s attracted me the “new” attention to deserve it. Regardless, allow me to say “Hello!”

And have a good day, wherever you are in our world. πŸ™‚

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