Seven thirty in the morning and on my way to a lecture. Should I, a student, even know that this time exists? As I walk along my home street I pull my scarf closer around my neck to stop the frosty air from biting. It’s still dark, though the morning light has opened a bleary eye across the horizon. Trudging down the street, there is no one to be seen. It’s quiet here, my footsteps echo on the cold concrete of the path. Soon a car passes. Then another. And another. As I reach the crossing at Happit I no longer feel like the only inhabitant of the planet. The morning seems to have finally kicked in. The nightmarish traffic stretches out in both directions, no wonder I have to leave at seven-thirty. People shuffle by drearily, hardly able to conceal their eagerness to get to work. There is always a line of severe looking business men in serious black overcoats at the bus stop – briefcases in one hand, a newspaper in the other and today is no different. When the bus arrives, a little old lady rummaging through her bag in order to eventually find her bus pass causes some unnecessarily loud nasal exhalations from the others waiting not so patiently in line. In a way, I’m glad for the disruption – after all it means I’ll be five minutes less early. I glance up at the familiar giant penguin through half closed eyes as the bus passes the zoo. Oddly, the next time I open them the bus has already reached George IV Bridge, and is swiftly passing the Honey Pot café – I must have dozed off. The bus makes its way down a long street – I have exactly three minutes in which I must try to wake myself up for the day ahead, before it ascends the steep hill to Uni.
The bus pulls out of campus, down the sloping hill – the beginning of the journey home. I can’t relax on this bus though, I know in a few minutes I’ll have to get up, get off and stand in the cold at the bus stop to wait for another to take me home. The ominous grey clouds peer at me from above. Looks like rain, and here’s me with no umbrella. The bus stop is busy. My stomach tightens at the thought of rush hour on the number twenty-six – the bodies pressed up against one and other, the babies crying, the cacophony of tinny phone music from the teenagers at the back, the chattering on mobiles, the buzz of twenty different conversations… Deep breaths, I tell myself, deep breaths. I survive boarding the number twenty-six, and actually manage, somehow, to relax. As the bus passes over the bridge above the canal, I watch as the raindrops begin to fall, planting a thousand tiny kisses on the streaming water as it flows. Even though I know it’s coming – it happens every time, at the same stop – I still feel mildly frustrated when the drivers change at the stop which is only five minutes from home. He slips into his jacket, passes a few cheerful exchanges as they switch places – it all seems to take an hour. Of course it doesn’t and, as we pass under the bridge, I relish the thought of being home in no time at all.