A new job on campus has given me the opportunity to experiment with two alternative forms of transportation: walking and riding the bus. A typical journey to work looks something like this: I leave my house on foot, walk what seems a like a very long distance down my winding street to the bus stop at the corner of Smith and Morningside. (“Good Exercise,” I keep telling myself). Here I wait for the bus. I anxiously glance southward on Smith Road for any sign of the green-and-white Bloomington Transit with the flashing title “Route 6 – Campus Shuttle.” Sometimes I stand with fellow travelers, sometimes we say hello, sometimes we don’t. I like that there is no pressure to be social at the bus stop.
I’ve discovered on sunny days there is a precise angle at which I can stand and let the sun shine on my face for a few blissful moments. When the bus comes into view, my stomach does a little flip with excitement. This harkens me back to my school bus days. The door opens, I board the bus, flash my pass to the driver, and find a seat. I notice how public transportation in Bloomington is much cleaner than in larger cities (lower demand = less wear and tear).
Luckily the bus has plenty of empty seats. I easily find my favorite next to the window. Sometimes I watch the world flash by outside as I enjoy the ride, other times I pull out my iPhone to check my email or play a game of Angry Birds. As more college students board at each stop, I notice I’m one of the oldest passengers on this bus. It’s hard to believe these young adults are closer in age to my daughter than me. The funny thing is, I still feel like a college student in many ways.
Eventually the bus is packed and I feel like a proverbial sardine. Here is where it can helpful to focus on the Angry Birds game and pray that my seat partner did not have a garlic bagel for breakfast. As we near campus, I begin to gather myself for departure at the IU Business School on Tenth Street where I, along with many others, pour out onto the sidewalk and cross the street to the Arboretum.
I pass the Library; so many memories here. This was my study place when I was a student, sometimes in the cafeteria, sometimes in the stacks, and sometimes in the lobby. I particularly liked the stacks, where it was so quiet the silence padded my ears as I dove into the academic journals for relevant material for my research papers. I once had a Criminal Justice class in the basement of the library called Alternative Control Systems. I remember writing a paper titled “Listening as a Guide to Justice,” in which I argued that more support for teaching people how to listen to one another would lead to a lower crime rate. It’s funny how threads from those days have found their way into my life today.
I walk at a good pace; I have ten minutes to get to my office on time. I pass the Fine Arts building and Auditorium and take the stairs down to the path through the woods that intersects with a well-worn trail from my undergraduate years: the path the Ballantine Hall. I continue south, past the Musical Arts Center, the round music building, and to Sycamore Hall. My walk ends with a hike up four flights of stairs. I arrive, breathless, ready for another day’s work.
I wonder, in the larger scheme, what has drawn me back to campus (I do ponder the Larger Scheme more than I did twenty years ago). Perhaps it is a need to revisit these threads of my earlier self and gather up some missing pieces for the next chapter. Deep inside, I know the answer to this question is best pounded out through the feet, and I take comfort in knowing these feet are leaving a smaller carbon footprint in the process.
-- Kim for the Poplar Grove Muse