The generator hums under the bus, like the constant snoring of a contented man. The small spotlights shine down on me, and on the kids, and on their endless chatter. They are a host of sparrows on a warmer-than-usual spring morning, except it is dark out, and cold.
All four kids sit at the tiny dining room table with a huge plastic container of crayons in front of them. The spill rainbows on their pages, unaware of the magic.
The drive from Paradise to Gettysburg was fraught with danger, seeing as that was the first long stretch that I drove this behomoth. (By the way, we’ve decided to go with the name my friend Jason suggested for the bus: Willie.) But all went according to plan. Except for the second roundabout close to New Oxford, when the long sweeping turn threw open the refrigerator and vomited its contents on to the floor. So long water filter.
* * * * *
The young couple knocked on our bus door. Smiling, she handed me a paper bag, a “bus-warming” present. Travel puzzles for the kids, some trail mix, a little electronic game: the kinds of things a family of six can appreciate.
She is a writer and thespian – her husband a musician and song-writer. We spent the evening eating bread, cheese, fruit, and (lest I be accused of being a healthy eater) some of the candy I smuggled on to the bus.
We talked about writing and creativity and the process that beckons us into the presence of those coy little creatures. When they left us a few hours later I felt strangely invigorated.
“It’s like we’re back in college,” Maile said.
“True,” I replied. “Including the huge pile of laundry back in our room.”
* * * * *
Soon our four kids (the two littles and the two bigs) will be enveloped in their bunks, curtains drawn, drifting off to the sound of the rumbling generator. The sun will rise over Gettysburg, all those costly fields. And the sun will rise over this bus.
And our first day on the road will be behind us.