Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Walk to the Art Building 8am Wednesday 1.2 miles
I lock the door to my house. As I turn around I notice the weather feels a few degrees cooler than the day before but the humidity is still high. The sun is casting orange light from the direction I'll be walking and I regret not grabbing my sunglasses. At first, I think I am the only person out walking. I realize I am mistaken though, when I see a girl across the street mounting her bike and another girl crossing the street, trudging towards me with her eyes nearly closed. The girl on the bike passes me as I walk further up the block. Her pedaling seems labored as she ascends the slope of the street. I look down instinctively. The sidewalk is cracked and uneven here. In some places it has been patched up with asphalt that has been sticky for the past few days. Despite my careful watching of the crumbling sidewalk I still manage to catch the edge of my sandal on an slab of concrete. I save myself from falling with a clumsy hop-jump. I continue coolly continue my walk but I check around me to make sure no one saw my trip. The trees along my path shield my eyes from the sun, so I no longer wish that I had my sunglasses. A car moves into the middle of the two-lane street to pass a guy on a bike. I pass an old man with two small dogs. It's a bit awkward because we make eye contact from far away and as I grow closer I feel like there should be some sort of acknowledgment, a “morning” or polite smile. However by the time I reach him the sun is in my eyes again so I look down at the ground and smile at his dogs instead. Most of the other walkers (though there are few of them right now) are carrying food, coffee, or water. I reach an intersection and a car comes to a complete stop to let me cross. I front of me girl stops to fix her shoe. There are many more people walking once I reach the Drag. My mind wanders to thoughts not involved with my walk and I almost don't see the light signaling me to cross the street. Across from campus a horde of people are waiting to cross the street. Besides their bags a few are carrying coffee, cellphones, and music players. I join the group waiting to cross the street. As we cross I realize only two guys are talking to each other, everyone else is keeping to themselves. In West Mall the organization representatives are setting up their tables. No one is talking here either. It is easier to hear the chirping of birds and crickets than people's chatter. It's passing period and a swarm of people are going in different directions at 23rd St. and Speedway but still most people are quiet. A campus car rolls along at a snail's pace but still has to stop often for students to pass it. People are riding their bikes in what was previously a stretch of street on Speedway designated as a no-bike zone. I have to check the sign to see if the rule has changed and it has. Two bikes zip past me as I cross the shared street. I pass two people talking animatedly about neurons. The fountain at the end of East Mall is stagnant, green, and smelly and somehow still managing to leak onto the footpath. I wish I could avoid the fountain on my walk but a longer path wouldn't really be worth the trouble. As I cross the street a truck that was in too much of a hurry has to stop mid intersection to avoid hitting me. I arrive at the Art Building where sleepy students are locking bikes onto racks and lumbering up the steps to the building doors. I join them and enter class.

Bus Ride to the Art Building 2:30pm Friday 1.2 Miles
I wait to leave my house until it stops raining. When I finally leave the rain has stopped but the air is thick and muggy. As I walk to the bus stop I notice a guy in front of a house across the street balancing shirtless on top of a board placed on a sideways keg. We watch each other until I walk out of his sight. I turn my head forward and see the West Campus bus turn the corner and I know I'll be waiting on the next one. I hear something that sounds a lot like a wooden board slap pavement and I crack a smile. I get to the bus stop and check the bench with my hand to make sure it isn't wet. It's not so I sit down. There is one other guy waiting at the stop with me. A car dives past with its windows down and music loud. We catch a few seconds of R&B before it drives away. I absentmindedly read the headlines of The Daily Texan on display in the box near the stop. The bus arrives and I get on. Walking onto the bus marks a stark change in temperature. I move from the thick hot air to a crisp, cold bus interior. I take a seat near the back. The seat is cold and the fabric that covers it has small bristles which feel abrasive to the uncovered parts of my legs. A guy is speaking into a headset phone in another language while the guy next to him wears headphones that look exactly the same as the headset but I know his are just iPod earphones. Two friends talk loudly to each other but the noise of the bus prevents me from hearing exactly what they're saying. The bus lurches forward at a stop and two girls get on and greet each other. All the seats are full now and some people entering the bus are forced to stand. A girl who is too short to reach the handrail hangs on the black hoop grips. As the bus starts driving the hoop sways and moves and the girl unwillingly swings into other standing passengers. She looks frantically for something to hold onto that will let her be more stable. She moves to the middle of the bus where a vertical handrail reaches from floor to ceiling. The driver grows impatient at a green stoplight where the car in front of her is waiting for pedestrians to pass so it can turn right. The bus driver checks for oncoming traffic and goes into the other lane to pass the turning car. The move is ill-founded though since an awkwardly placed charter bus is stopped diagonally in an intersection trying to maneuver its way out of a parking place. Our bus driver pauses unusually long at the stop sign to allow the charter bus to move. At the next stop most of the bus's load gets off, but they are replaced by a crowd nearly as large. A girl unloads her bike from the front of the bus. Everyone who gets on the bus tries to scope out a seat before choosing to stand. As the bus starts again it's progress is slowed by masses of pedestrians crossing the streets near the dorms. A guy sits next to me and asks me if the bus we're on will take him to the engineering building. Except for a few, the stops are unannounced, one must know the route and the area if they hope to signal for the correct stop. After I try to answer his question he checks his cellphone. He asks his friend what a certain acronym means and he's told it stands for another building on campus. The boys discuss acronyms used for the engineering building as the bus stops in front of the art building. I quickly squeeze my way off the crowded bus and enjoy my newly regained personal space. The bus quickly loads another a group of students and sets off for its next stop.

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