Ten minutes. That’s how long it took me to walk from my house to the corner of Westchester and Wesley Avenues, where the bus stopped each morning around 8:20 in the summer of 1980. Port Chester to White Plains and back again, bus #13 brought me to my summer job at the health department, where I worked logging water samples and reports about bacteria counts from beaches and pools in the area. My first year of teaching just completed, I still needed income for the summer to buy gas for my Chevy Chevette and save money to move out of mom and dad’s home.
Ten minutes. That’s how long it took me to walk from my office to the bus stop at quitting time. Somewhere between my third week of work and my sixth, road construction by my usual bus stop forced me to trudge another block and a half to a different corner. I didn’t much like having to walk the extra distance in the heat or worse, on the occasional rainy day. But I didn’t regret my decision to keep the car parked at home in the driveway; I would have had to pay for parking, and money was tight.
Ten minutes. That’s how long a guy with curly blonde hair, blue eyes, and a killer smile stood staring at me from the alcove of the corner store at my new bus stop, where they sold newspapers and Coca Cola. I was seeing someone at the time, a Social Studies teacher seven years my senior. He was a nice man, but he wasn’t “the one”. I liked that the blonde guy was staring. I was a flirt, I confess, and I wanted to see what would happen. Besides, it was a nice way to spend ten minutes waiting for bus #13. The flirting persisted over several days, until actual words were spoken, and I realized I liked the sound of his voice.
Ten minutes. That’s about how long our first conversation took on the day we first sat side by side on the sticky- hot vinyl seats, where Ken revealed to me that he didn’t own a car and therefore had very little furniture in his apartment. I revealed that I did own a car, and would be happy to drive him downtown to look for a couch and a rug for his living room. In the interest of full disclosure, I mentioned the nice Social Studies teacher boyfriend because I didn’t want this cute blonde guy to make assumptions about my motives. We made plans a few days later to shop at Redi-Cut Carpet and the Salvation Army on Main Street.
Ten minutes. That’s how long we sat on the hood of my car making out (I like the repetition here, but you and I both know it was longer than that), and all thoughts of, and allegiance to, the nice Social Studies teacher had been as easily swept from my brain as tumbleweeds on a breezy day . Just hours before, Ken and I had successfully located a low-pile oriental rug woven in reds and golds, as well as a rust-colored furry couch. (I think furry couches were trendy at the time, even a little bit boho chic.) I was the one to suggest we celebrate our finds at the Cobblestone Restaurant, where I had parked the car where we later, well, you know.
So here we are, thirty-one years later and I realize I have never thanked the city of White Plains, New York, for the excellent upkeep of their streets, especially their bus stops. So thank you to whoever wrote up the work order to dig up the sidewalk where I used to stand and wait. It probably took you all of ten minutes to write it up, but isn’t it amazing how ten minutes here and there can really add up?