As I went walking on Friday afternoon, it occurred to me that I just so happened to be retracing part of the route that my old school bus would take every day. And being the second last Friday in October, it also just happened to mark a certain number of years since I finished school. And, a couple of hundred Friday afternoons since I last caught my number 2 school bus. Catching that bus every day was a significant chapter of my life, and one of the final chapters that I closed before my diagnosis.
I can remember waiting outside the school gates for that bus to arrive every day. On blazing, sunny 40 degree days, and on cold, blustery grey days. I can remember getting excited on the days where our bus was one of the comfortable, spacious, new air conditioned ones. And I can remember being depressed every time our bus was one of the old, squashy, rattly ones with ripped seats and graffitied windows.
I can remember being given a word of advice not to sit at the back of the bus on my first day of year eight, because that was where all the “cool” kids sat. And I can remember eventually becoming one of those cool kids who sat at the back of the bus when I made it to year eleven and year twelve.
I can remember how full my school bag used to be on that bus. Full of the text books I told myself that I would study that night. The assignments I convinced myself I’d get a head start on that weekend. The school blazer that I was supposed to wear all the way home, but stuffed into my bag the minute I got onto that bus and out of the teacher’s sight. The lunchbox that never saw the light of day because it was “uncool” to take it out into the school yard. My very first Motorola flip phone, wallet, keys and drink bottle.
And absolutely nothing else.
If there’s one thing that those bus rides mean to me today, it’s the fact that it was one of the last chapters of my life that was completely diabetes free. There was no blood glucose meter to carry around, making sure that it wasn’t squashed by the weight of my textbooks. There were no sneaky glucose checks or insulin correction shots before everyone else got on the bus fashionably late. There were no bags of jellybeans to fumble around for on the bottom of my bag if I was feeling shaky. I was able to happily eat all of the junk food that was passed around and not feel guilty for it. I didn’t have to think about my next insulin shot.
Looking back today, that world seems completely unreal to me. But it was there. It was reality. And it feels like only yesterday that I was getting off that number 2 bus for the very last time.
And when I got off at that bus stop at ten minutes to four each day, my biggest concern in the world was what treat I would have when I got inside. Potato chips or a bowl of ice cream? Lollies or chocolate? Popcorn or salted nuts? There was the latest school politics that I couldn’t wait to tell my Mum and little sister. Those much debated “favourite” students. Those love to hate teachers. And all of the homework that I probably wouldn’t get done that night.
So in other words, not a worry in the world.
Best of luck to all the Year 12 students preparing for final exams and graduation at the moment. Fond memories.