Romance On The School BusPicture a pretty river, flanked by a steep and undulating valley, some of it virgin bush, and the lower reaches of it mainly apple orchards. Then on the other side of the valley, picture my Matriculation College to which I had to travel every day.
The journey began at 6:45 am from our home on the river. By 7:10 am we arrived at the main river town from which departed our Matric. bus.
Whatever the time or season it was always foggy and cold. You could never tell just by looking outside what the day was going to be like until you ascended high enough to be out of the fog. Usually the sky was clear above, but the temperature was cool and the air was crisp.
It took about one and a half hours for the bus to wend its way through the hills with its hairpin bends and the Mt Wellington ba
We the travellers were a motley assortment of high school graduates who were beginning the first stage of higher education. Our newfound liberty was accentuated by being allowed to wear plain clothes for the first time. Being Australian, it was all uniforms till then. So we made the most of it, of course, not only shopping astutely for smart cheap clothes but going to lengths with our hair and makeup too.
There were no compulsory subjects at Matriculation College and the fact that for the first time in our scholastic lives we were doing a course entirely of our choosing added to the general euphoria of being in the late teens. In those days you only had to have passes in four subjects of your choosing to get into university, so naturally many chose subjects like "health, physical education and recreation, art, drama and social psychology."
For the first time, too, we were meeting and mixing with students from other schools in the valley, as some of these were separated by huge distances, and there were graduates from various private schools as well as the public high schools.
At age seventeen, I was definitely the nerdy type. I had never had a boyfriend and I wasn't looking for one, either. I wasn't into the disco scene and when our bus driver, Warwick, played the latest songs, I wasn't one of the people singing along. And just so you know, the top ten songs were largely those from, "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease", like, "Staying Alive" and "Greased Lightning".
I was kind of shy and introverted and given a lot to deep thinking, and that is largely what I did on the school bus as it swivelled and swerved and inched and crawled its way to school each morning. I sat by the window and thought about things.
Then one day a girl I knew from my old high school came and sat next to me and started being all chatty. And I thought, "That's strange; she never did that before!" But I didn't mind; I actually quite liked it. I was even more surprised when she sat next to me again on the way home and started asking me all sorts of questions like, "Where do you like to go out?" and, "What sort of movies do you like to watch?" Her name was Diane.
The next day, Diane sat next to me again. And this time she said, "My cousin wants to know if you would like to go out with him."
I was flabbergasted. I was quite sure I had no idea who she was talking about! "Who is your cousin?" I asked. She pointed to a seat on the other side of the bus about three ahead of where we were. All I could see was the top of the back of his head!
"Why doesn't he ask me out himself?" I demanded.
"Well, he's shy, and he never went to our school so he knew you wouldn't know him," she replied. I giggled. He sounded like just my type!
I asked Diane what his name is and she told me it was Tim. Then the penny dropped. He was in my social psychology class and one of his essays had been handed out to all of us to read because it was a model essay. "Better and better," I thought. "He has brains."
"Well," I said to Diane, "You tell Tim to come and ask me out himself and I will think about it in the meantime." To be honest, the idea of going out with a boy scared me. I wasn't sure I was ready for it.
That afternoon, on the bus trip home, Tim sat next to me and properly introduced himself. He was cute and cool and a snappy dresser. I liked him immediately. He asked me more about myself and told me about his family and his old school. He was an old fashioned kind of guy from a strict Catholic background and he had rosary beads in his shirt pocket. I wasn't Catholic but that didn't worry me. I was happy to be asked out by a Christian boy. He told me that he had noticed me a long time ago because of this little green jumpsuit I used to wear, and when he heard me speaking he liked my Sydney accent. It sounds superficial, I know, but it was all cool at the time. He asked me to come out with him to the disco and I said yes, even though for me that was going to be a quantum leap.
Well, to cut a long story short it all went very well. His parents came around to meet my parents before we even went on our first date and both our parents decided that we would get married! Our first kiss came shortly after, but that is another story. Tim and I went out together for nine months before announcing our engagement, and we have now been married for nearly 31 years. And it all started on the school bus!