Thursday, November 3, 2016


I always kept composure, though
it wasn't always easy. Sometimes
people or things really bugged me.
And then, other times, things just
took me away. I remember one
year, from the seminary  -  I guess
it was 1963, I had taken a bus to
go home for Thanksgiving. After
Thanksgiving, the next day, my
father and my uncle drove me to
the New Brunswick train station,
which had a bus depot back then
attached to the rear of it. I felt a
little out of sorts the whole time
I was home anyway, and the next
day's ride to the bus station was
just annoying. They both went
on about something, though I
really forget what it was. They
were talking family stuff, and it
seemed hurtful to me, being,
as I was, away from all that
and, at that very moment, being
driven yet again, to something
more that would remove me,
in this case, a bus, to take me
away. More distance, and
more sadness, for me. And  -
come to think of it  -  it could
not have been  1963, because
that was the Kennedy assassination
just a few day's before, and I
know I wasn't there for that,
nor would they have been
talking about anything else,
as they were. That year's
Thanksgiving everyone was
sad and all eyes were glued
to TV. It was like a weird,
communal mourning. So,
maybe it was 1964 then.
No matter, I got on the
bus eventually, and just
let it ride me away. In a
complete silence, then
anyway, of the kind once
unique to buses, and
trains too, for that matter
: the darkened interiors,
the only light maybe being
the little spot-lights for
reading; if someone was
using them. All that plush
and padded seating, the
silent rows of people. It
was special, or at least it
was separated from real
life enough to make it
seem special.
In its slow and almost 
tedious way, this bus made 
its few other stops  - I 
recall picking up another
schoolmate, somewhere
along the way, perhaps,
down there. Anyway,
in time the bus began 
passing through each of 
those small and incidental 
southern NJ towns  -  I
can't recall the order: 
Burlington, Mount Laurel,
Runnemede, Maple Shade,
Berlin, etc, right down
to Blackwood. Where, of
course I got out and we 
were picked up by car 
for the ride back to the 
seminary, from town.
Even if it was a 'religious'
school all this special
attention given always
seemed pretty exclusive, 
and 'ritzy,' to use one of
my other's words. 
No matter, my point here
is the enchantment of the 
trip, how I did love it. It
seems weird now, thinking
in retrospect, but what took 
me so far off, and made me
so enchanted, feel so distant
and other-worldly, was that
as we drove these little towns,
they each already had hung
those lighted wreaths and 
simple town decorations of
the season. In fact, in one of
them, the work crew, as I
watched, was still at the task.
The basket truck, the ladders,
 the very simple wires strung
across the road. Hard to
explain, I suppose, and
nothing like today's 
preponderance of all
that municipal holiday 
overkill. This seemed 
more quiet, and genuine, 
and real.

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