- Academic Departments
- Et al. Journal
- Volume VI: In My Own Words 2016/2017
- Riding to Adulthood
Riding to Adulthood
As the late August early morning breeze rippled through my hair, I anxiously waited for the chance to go home. After spending the morning finding all my classes for the new semester, I stood at the bus stop in front of the college. The bright rays of the sun were blocked by the towering Nestor Hall as I pondered the exact route to get back to my parent's West Columbus condo. As I watched the time pass on my phone, I nervously awaited the boisterous, vast, COTA bus to speed down the road. The longer the bus took, the more paranoid I became, wondering if this was the right idea. Finally, the bus came into view and pulled up in front of me with a whoosh of wind. I hesitated to get on the bus, not knowing what to expect, but without much choice I climbed on. I slid my pass through the scanner, but it wouldn't take. My heart skipped a beat.
"Ma'am, flip your card."
Fumbling, I turned the card around, driving it through the scanner again to claim my seat on the bus. As I walked to the nearest seat, I was thrust forward by the sudden lurch of the bus moving back into traffic. Grabbing the nearest sturdy structure to hold myself steady, I sat in my seat.
This was the first time in my life that I did something on my own without someone next to me telling me what to do or where to go. I sat on the bus wondering how the system worked. As I looked down to the last thing I could depend on, the GPS on my phone showed that I was going the wrong way from where I needed to go. My palms started to dampen from the nervous sweat that was forming. My head felt dizzy as my mind started going in circles, thinking about everything that might happen. My fingers had a death grip on my phone so tight I might've broken it, knowing that it was the only thing that could help me since I was all alone in this adventure. I quickly deciphered that I was on the wrong bus, going the wrong direction from my house. As I tried to figure out what went wrong and where it happened, the bus rode on and on into an area where I wasn't comfortable.
The weathered store fronts and boarded-up buildings of Cleveland Avenue stared at me as I rode on, looking unwelcoming as if to say, "Go home; you don't belong here." The weeds were growing through the cracks of the cement, as if no one cared they made it their home. The broken bottles scattered on the ground as if someone had gotten in a fight, using the bottle as a deadly weapon.
I was terrified of what was happening. I didn't feel safe, being someone who was from a nicer neighborhood. I didn't know what would happen or who would get on the bus with me. Would it be someone who would try to rob me? Would it be someone who would try to take advantage of me? Or would it be someone who looked capable of murder? My eyes darted around trying to look for a threat, while my arms covered my bag, hoping no one would take it. My stomach dropped every time an unfamiliar face came on the bus. Some of the people were ginormous, dirty, tattooed, scarred men that looked like they could smell fear from a mile away, while others appeared to be running from the law. Why would I think like this? No one has ever hurt me! But all I knew were the stories of crime and sadness I heard from the news about how dangerous it could be to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Not knowing what to do, I sat on the bus foolishly hoping it would eventually turn around and take me back to where I needed to go. Finally, I was the only one left on the bus. As the driver looked in the review mirror, he realized I had no idea where I was going. It must have been evident on my face.
"Ma'am, what stop are you trying to get off at? After this last stop, I'm going back to the garage."
I observed that he kept calling me "ma'am." I wasn't sure if he did that because that's how he was raised or if it was part of his job to be polite and call an 18-year-old "ma'am." Trying to get my words out, I only tripped over my own tongue. Finally, I responded, "I'm trying to go to North High and East Broad."
I don't know if he found it funny or was bewildered by the fact I was so far from home. "Ma'am, you got on the bus, on the wrong side of the street. You'll have to get off and hop on the bus right behind us, which will take you back downtown. Explain to him what happened and he'll help you the rest of the way."
My heart stopped mid beat. Did he just say I had to get off this bus and get on another one? As I nodded numbly and thanked him for his advice, I looked out the window of what now felt like my sanctuary to the place I wanted to stay out of so desperately. I knew I couldn't stall much longer. Hesitantly, I got out of my seat and went out into the cool morning air. This air felt different than the air before, more dangerous perhaps. As the sun beat down on my back, I stared down the street hoping the COTA bus I was supposed to be on would speed down the road. Eventually, after what seemed like hours of waiting, the bus came into view. My heart skipped a beat knowing that I would soon be back to the safety and comfort of the environment where I was comfortable. When the COTA bus stopped in front of me, the now familiar whoosh of the wind coming from under the bus sounded. This time knowing that I was on the right bus, I confidently stepped on and swiped my pass. "Other way, ma'am." The fear of the unknown came back to me from the beginning of the adventure. Again, I fumbled to turn my pass around to get the correct side to slide through and the machine finally beeped, telling me it was okay to get on the bus. Sitting down in a seat on the correct bus which was going back downtown was like a boulder of stress and anxiety being lifted off my shoulders.
Knowing that I was so close to a familiar part of town led me to realize that I'm terrified of having to do things that make me feel uneasy without the guidance of someone I trust. I have always had someone's hand to hold as I was doing something new or scary. Riding the bus that day was liking riding the bus into adulthood. I was scared and alone. Yes, there were people there to help me along the way when I got stuck, but overall it was me trying to figure out how the system worked. Making wrong turns and wrong guesses are what adulthood is about. Being on your own and having to act like you know what you're doing is a lot scarier than what I originally thought. I don't think I'm completely ready to leave the safety and comfort of being a teenager.