Hashtag throwback Thursday. It has been twenty-three days and I’m still trying to make sense of the election. I’m not sure I will. I wake up in the middle of the night and think the thoughts that come and come and come. I’m thinking about reading and comprehension. I’m thinking about news and propaganda. I’m thinking about the libraries of my youth on the east side of Buffalo, New York and how each book I read opened a door to an entirely different world and allowed me to see through and read between the lines of the moments and people in my life. I’m thinking about the city bus that I took to high school. It was the #19 and I waited for it at the end of my street. It took me through and out of the neighborhood, past the University, to my school. Every morning I waited with an elderly black woman who I let get on first. She sat in the first seat at the front. I liked to sit in the very back so that I could get a good view of everyone, and then make up little stories about them in my mind. Here is the thing about the #19 I want to share with you. Lying awake at night and remembering the #19 as an old man it occurred to me how democratic that bus was and how much it shaped how I came to approach people. A year or two into school, a teacher of mine who was also my running coach got onto the #19, which was unusual considering he almost always ran home, I’d see him sometimes from the window. It was a blustery winter day, he got on, saw me and sat down next to me. He pulled out a folded New Yorker story he had ripped out of the magazine and gave it to me. Thought I might like it. He told me about where he grew up in the neighborhood, his family and then his stop came and he got off. I watched him walk through the snow in the center of the street as we pulled away. We passed Anacone’s Inn, a bar I would underage drink in, and then back into my neighborhood which sagged with the weight of the economy. Thinking about it again in the middle of the night, it struck me that my teacher took the same bus I took and it was no big deal. I took the bus with the elderly black woman who sat in the front. We said hello to each other, I let her on first, or she demurred and let me go ahead, and we sat. I made up stories about the greasy mechanic and the woman with the bags who arranged them and rearranged them. I made up stories about the University students, and the office workers, and the elementary school kids with powdered donuts around their mouths. I looked, and with the light from the window streaming in, they all became me. The stunned, tired old grandmother with her granddaughter on her lap was me, and I was the granddaughter too. I was the elderly black woman in the front, and I was the bus driver too. I was the teacher and the mechanic and the University student before I was a University student. I saw in them the struggle of life, of too little money, problems, and old clothes, but I saw their smiles too and the courtesy they extended by moving a bag or wiping melted snow off of a seat so someone could sit. That is what I remember most, the way an old handkerchief was unfolded and used to wipe away the wet to make room for someone who had been standing for too long and just needed a seat with a view of their world in a big plate glass bus window.