The Honeysuckle Bush Growing Next to Our Old Bus Stop

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The Honeysuckle Bush Growing Next to Our Old Bus Stop by Sasha Tucker - Photo by Marika Campbell-Blue

There’s a honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop. It was growing there when we took the bus together too, and it caught my eye this morning when I walked to the train. It bloomed this morning—April 8th—a little early, a little cooler than it’s been years past. It smelled the same though. Mouthwatering. Aromatic. And it made me feel the same way, too.

There’s something about that honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop. Something about getting onto the bus in April and May, fistfuls of blossoms stuffed into my pockets, sitting down next to you on those sticky leather seats, pulling the crushed flowers out in a desperate attempt to preserve them as long as we possibly could, thrusting our sticky hands out the window as we drove away.

One year, the honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop bloomed pink. Pink and yellow and white. Tubular flowers woven through a wire fence, wire in our backs as we leaned against it, waiting for the bus. You tried to convince me the yellow blossoms were the sweetest—tried to make me give you the white ones.

The honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop was the highlight of the spring. I remember when I couldn’t see over the fence, when the blossoms seemed endless, and the smell unfurled its sticky tendrils into our mouths. We’d lie across the bus seats, hands touching across the aisle, and make the older kids step over us. Sometimes they didn’t, but it was fine because our hands touched, and we had honeysuckle fever in our brains.

You told the little ones about the honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop. When we could see over the fence and over their heads you told them how to pull out the stem of the flower: slowly, hesitantly, until the droplet of liquid (so small you can barely see it, much less taste it) rears its head and then suck it into your mouth, quickly, quickly, before it falls. You closed your eyes when you had it, savored it.

There was a year when the honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop didn’t bloom. I cut my hair that year, and you sat with someone else. I’d prop my feet up on the seat in front of me where you were, in a futile attempt to prevent my sweaty legs from sticking to the seat, I said, but really I wanted to remind you I was there. You’d roll your eyes, but squeeze my ankles a little harder than I needed you to, the pain a promise that the honeysuckle bush would bloom next year.

One year, I was four thousand, one hundred, and fifty-eight miles away from the honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop. You called me and told me it bloomed. I could hear the people around you when you called me and I could smell the blossoms on your breath. I asked you to eat some for me. I told you I missed you. Come back soon, you said. They’re beautiful this year.

I don’t remember everything about the honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop the last year we took the bus together. It bloomed late, but it felt appropriate. We walked more than we took the bus that year. We talked more often than we had any other year. My hair had grown out by then, and you sat with me when we did ride the bus, weaving the white flowers (the sweetest flowers) into my hair.

This year, I almost missed it when the honeysuckle bush growing next to our old bus stop bloomed. It caught my eye this morning when I walked to the train. Just white flowers, but fragrant enough to make me remember what it felt like to have the honeysuckle fever. I stood by the bush, leaned against the fence and let the wire cut into my back. I could almost see you there.

I called you and mentioned offhand that the honeysuckle bush next to our old bus stop had bloomed this morning. You paused. School bus nostalgia, you said. You’re three thousand, six hundred, and twenty miles away, but I saw you close your eyes and savor the bloom. Come back soon, I told you. They’re beautiful this year.

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Sasha Tucker is a senior at The Brearley School in New York City. She just completed a year as editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and is in charge of technical theater for all of her school’s drama productions. If you can’t find her inside reading a book or writing an article, she’s outside backpacking.
Accompanying photo: “Peaceful Planter” by Marika Campbell-Blue