From TechCrunch - December 24, 2017


he trip began just before the end of school. From the wood-shaving smell of third grade out into the clean fall air, sprung free by my mother who appeared at the little window in the classroom door like a treat. You were the one who got out early. You were the one walking down an empty hall toward the big triple doors of the school.

We were leaving school to drive to my grandmothers house. These were the days before everything: Before we could Skype home and feel wed done something meaningful. Before entertainment and education and music on-demand. Before the world clattered at us like a garish streetcar, wheels screeching, bells ringing, doors open and waiting to take us away from the present and into an unknown future.

Across the street was a little mall, Sharon Square, cut through by something they called an Arcade by its builders. The name endlessly disappointed methere were no video games.

An arcade is a covered walkway, my dad told me, but that didnt make sense. We walked through the arcadethe passage between a music shop and a liquor store. It was a drab place, dark and concrete, and we came out onto the parking lot facing High StreetColumbuss main arteryand crossed the street to wait for the bus.

The escape was almost too much. I was buzzing. The rest of the kids were inside and my sister and I were free, out an hour early on a Friday.

The bus came a moment later. I didnt wear a watch, but it seemed to come always, hissing outside our classroom window in the summer, flashing past when the windows were closed. It came now for us, this strange bulbous thing, clad in COTA red and blue or, if we were lucky, one of the older tan models. We sat on the seats up front, the heater burbling, the bus nearly empty.

1:30. Escaped. The school diminished in the distance, disappeared. The spire of St.Michaels fell away as new buildings popped up. The Graceland Theatre. The computer shop across the street. White Castle. These places I wanted to visit but we had no time.

My father was waiting.

Through the side-lit streets we rode, heat coming out from under the fake leather seats, a smell of oil and polish and snow. Id press my cheek against the bus window glass and feel the cold quarters of an inch away but in here it was warm and calm. People would hop on and off but the bus was mostly empty. It was early on December 23rd, and Columbus was a sleepy town especially around the holidays. This bus was our own. It dinged stops along High Street and we got off just before E. Broad Street.

This is Columbuss heart, its downtown. In the distance the State House, up the street a creche at the Nationwide Building. Where the bus stopped was a fireproof storage building, a sign in gold leaf crackling on the glass. Here it was busier with cars rushing past us as we ran to the next bus. Older sedans rolled by on studded snow tires, but there had been no snow for a few days. The wet hissing was familiar to memy father drove on studs most of the winterand it made me think of a waterfall we had seen that summer, a dull roar over rocks, water cascading into a deep pool.


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