My son reminded me of something that happened so long ago that it feels like another life. It happened while I was a Bus Driver in Wales, The city of Swansea is on the south coast of Wales and the Bus company I worked for was South Wales Transport.
I had this route that went past Tycoch college and in the morning I would have a bus full of students. There was one in particular that I remember, Sharon. Sharon's parents were from Jamaica, some place just outside Kingston, if memory serves me right. During the 50's a lot of people immigrated in from Jamaica, Granada and Trinidad. There was full employment back in those days, I may well write about that, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan (Super Mac) and his "You've never had it so good" speech. but I digress.
Sharon and I used to talk. She was lovely and I was quite smitten by her. I could tell she liked me too but I was married and it never went any further than just talking on the bus on her way to college. There was a fair bit of banter too; like the time when she offered me a piece of dark chocolate and I pretended I couldn't find it on her hand, or how she'd come on the bus, if it had been raining, with her hood up and I'd tell her to smile otherwise I wouldn't know there was anyone in there. She called me "White Trash" and told me that the only good thing about me was a white Christmas. It was all good fun and so inappropriate in today's oh so politically correct world.
The second and third generation of those who came to the UK from the islands integrated well into our culture and way of life. I don't say there was no prejudice from individuals, some people will always be that way, but I was never so aware of it as I am today in California. Here I find so many people who are uncomfortable in their own skin, they can't have that easy familiarity that I was so used to back home. It seems you always have to be aware of what you say and who is listening when you say it. The breath of fresh air here is the Black people, excuse me the African American people, who are not bitter and angry and who can relate to anyone on their own terms. I'm going to have to write about that too, but back to Sharon.
One day she got on my bus quite loaded down. She had a basket and a backpack and some other things and I asked what was happening. She said that this was her last day. College was over and she and her friends were doing a gift exchange. She obviously had a lot of friends. She also told me that her family was moving to Surrey. That's in south east England and it meant we would never see each other again. I remember saying "And we never even kissed" She said "You never know" We chatted a little more then, when we got to the college she asked me to help her off with all that luggage. I had a pretty full bus but I wasn't going to say no so I gave her a hand. Then outside the bus in the full view of all my passengers and anyone else who could be walking by, she kissed me.
I'll never forget that kiss, it was loving and passionate and everything a kiss should be, but what made it special was that it was just a kiss. Usually when you kiss there's something that goes along with it; Like a prelude to sex or the promise of something to happen later. There's always something else. But we were never going to see each other again so there was no ulterior motive, it was a kiss purely for the sake of the kiss.
When I got back on the bus I was blushing like a fool and the passengers were clapping and cheering. Total embarrassment and a flush of pleasure and joy.
I never did see Sharon again, I have no idea what became of her but I will never forget that day and I will never forget the Kiss.