I ran onto the bus just as the driver was about to shut the doors. I reached into my jacket pocket and pull out my Metro Card, only to find out there was not enough money on it to pay my fare.  Sigh.

I looked at the driver, and gave him the please don’t embarrass me and kick me off the bus for not having any money look.  He shot me back a dirty look and gestured for me to go on ahead without paying.

“Thank you” I whispered.

As I made my way through the cluster of people who insisted on standing at the front of the bus, I saw an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school; Roberta Smallwood.

Roberta was very troubled back then, she was in and out of jail for robbery and she used to smoke crack. But from what I saw,  Roberta had cleaned up nicely.

The seat next to Roberta was free so I decided to sit on the tattered blue upholstery that clearly had a set-in stain. After awhile, as a New Yorker, you become a master at differentiating a set-in stain that will have no affect on your clothing from a stain that’s fresh.

Roberta immediately recognized me and we laughed and reminisced about our high school years. She opened up about her prison days and rehab. She had been clean for five years and worked as an administrative assistant for the MTA. Every now and then her eyes would wander off out the window when she spoke of her past. I guess some memories were still very fresh for her and she was still healing.  I was happy to see that she is doing so well.

The bus finally reached my destination, the subway.  Roberta and I exchanged phone numbers and emails, vowing to stay in touch, but would we really?  People often run into old friends and have every intention of staying in contact with each other, but life’s routines always seem to get in the way.

As I hopped off the bus, I was painfully reminded of the annoying blister I had on my pinky toe that would hurt every time my sandal strap would rub it.  As I thought about Roberta on the train ride into NYC, I realized that everyone has a story; there is something that happens in everyone’s life that makes them who they are.  What is mine?

Martine Chevry received her B.A. in Communications and Culture from the CUNY School of Professional Studies in June 2011.  She currently works as an Editorial Assistant and lives in Queens, New York. Martine is currently planning on self publishing her first novel in Spring 2012. She enjoys writing, working out, shopping, reading and reality television.

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