a friend of mine is relocating to middle america
in a few months, pursuing an advanced degree in theatre. she is confident that she could handle the actual physical moving (truck-loading, driving, unloading) along with the help of her mother, but she thought that one or two of her friends assisting might make things quicker and smoother. to that end, michael did a little research for me comparing the prices of return trips via air, train, and bus. the first two options are, naturally, a little pricier than the bus; however, i would like to avoid the bus at all costs. would you like to hear the story of why i hate the bus with a long tangental story that leads up to the fateful day of my eventual bus-hating? of course, you would...
i was nineteen, living in new orleans, and had just scored my first full-time job. the reason i applied for the job was not for the money; rather, it was for this one huge perk. you see, in exchange for working at the university
, they offered me a tuition waiver which would allow me to finish the last three years of my degree in the same amount of time and, essentially, for free. i was probably only making 17 grand, but i thought i was rich. i had my own apartment uptown, close to the streetcar line, and near the garden district. the only thing i lacked was a car. a few months into the job, my family presented me with one. i suspect the generous gift was a combination of two things. first, a thank you
for not saddling them with further tuition bills. second, an attempt to allay the fears of my worried mother whose nerves were fraying everytime her baby boy recounted an adventure in laundry or grocery buying in a busy city via bicycle. whatever the reason, i was now the proud owner of a 1986 silver subaru station wagon provided i could find a way up to hunts-vegas, alabama where my dad was stationed at the time.
still with me? this is where the bus part of the story begins. (you're so patient with me when i ramble like this.) so, i buy a ticket on greyhound for my first long distance bus trip. i arrive to the station, as i arrive anywhere, early. the bus is delayed. twice. instead of worrying, i read, try to play guess the smells
, or devise stratagem for defending my chair, a territory now, to be defended against the flotsam and jetsam of humanity which begin to wash up very close to where i sit. we eventually board and things seem fine...until biloxi. when we stop to pick up a few more people, greyhound realizes that they have overbooked the bus. seeking to stem outright revolt, they relax the safety regulations that they have posted just about everywhere on this vehicular behemoth and allow the unwashed masses to stand for the duration of the trip down the center aisle. one guy even sits to the right of the driver in the little steps near the exit. less than one half hour outside of biloxi, it began to feel like the middle passage. i abandon any attempts at reading and instead focus on some hackneyed form of meditation, trying to imagine my pain as a white ball of healing light
. soon, a hispanic gentleman, who i discovered spoke absolutely no english, had tired of standing in the aisle beside me and was now sitting on my armrest. part of me felt bad for him having to stand. i felt lucky that i, at least, had a seat. the other part of me, the stronger part, was not happy that this guy's ass would be less than a foot from my face for the duration of the trip.
the rest of the journey passed in a blur. before my feet touched the warm alabama asphalt, i'd vowed only to use greyhound again in two instances. one was if i ever found myself on the lam. the other case was just like the movies. i was finally paroled from some rural prison for a crime i did not commit. the giant metal doors would open onto a vast un-peopled landscape and a stripe of two-lane blacktop, waves of heat rising up from it, so that trees in the distance seemed to shake. i'd begin walking the first few miles, west, i think, past sign after sign warning motorists against picking up hitchhikers. after a few hours, a big silver greyhound would pass me. i'd immediately see the red brake lights come on as it eased onto the shoulder a few hundred yards ahead. i'd hold my hat on top of my head with my right hand and run to it, thankful.
: double indemnity, guinevere
: django reinhardt
'i surrender, dear'
: ...carrots carved into lobsters, butterflies carved out of radishes, beautiful flower blossoms carved from beets.