Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I got too much wood and not enough sheep

I woke up on the 27th after a cold night of barely any sleep and loads of angst. Got my fat ass on the bus and watched the driver talk to his boss through the window. The boss-creature did a little dance and burst into a song. It was mildly amusing, very surreal and just a tad bit frightening. My busdriver looked exactly like Mark Ruffalo will when he's in his mid sixties, and had a fairly odd sense of humor. I liked him a lot. "Everyone who's not on the bus, raise your hand. No hands, good, let's go". Yeah. I was sitting alone from Montreal to New York, enjoying the isolation and the scenery. Upstate New York is stunning at this time of year. Behind me was an old chinese lady, dressed in yellow. She kept peeking at me, going "aww" and randomly bursting into laughter. She asked me if she could have a piece of my energybar, I gave her half. "You-are-so-nice-I-want-to-give-you-some-small-money" she said in a strange robotic tone, and gave me five bucks. It was enough for a giant cheeseburger once I hit New York, about ten hours later.
I wandered around in NY for a bit, not being particularly impressed. The place stinks, quite literally, and it's very busy and full of schizos. back at the station I sat down on a bench where an old man threatened to break my knees for no appearant reason. I was too tired to argue with him, so I found my gate and hung out there even though I had three hours left 'til the bus to Ohio left. I was just quietly reading my Bruce Lee-book when some guy approaches me and asks me if I'm russian. "No" I said. "Funny, you have russian eyes" he replied. "Okay" was my clever counter, and he left me alone for the time being. He returned a couple of hours later, I ignored him while he stood next to me and stared at me directly for about ten minutes. I sat down, he sat down, I stood up, he stood up. Eventually I gave up and talked to him, and actually found myself enjoying it. His friends joined us and we all hung out on the ride to Pittsburgh, having a really good time. They showed me exactly 444 pictures of themselves and told me a lot about Russia, it was very interesting.
Once in Ohio I had barely eaten or slept and I smelled like a thousand crotches. I had about three or four hours left to my final destination, and twelve hours to wait before there was an actual bus going there. I was stuck in a shitty country station with nothing to do, so I went outside for a bit. The fresh morning air tasted like nothing I have ever sensed in my life, after having gotten used to diesel and filth. An amish dude had parked his horse outside a gas station, the only visible building for miles away. It was quiet. I should've been bored and frustrated, but I was quite happy just being somewhere with access to drinking fountains and a restroom where I could actually wash my hands.
I was sitting outside in the cold, enjoying the sun and the silence, when an old black woman started screaming and cursing inside the station. Her bus had left without her, with her bags and medicines and even her shoes on it. She was quite naturally very frustrated, and called around for about an hour to find some way to contact the busdriver or atleast the next station it was heading to, to make sure her bags didn't get stolen or lost. Greyhound is about as useful when it comes to customer service as a lamp post is for doing origami. In the end, me and another woman ended up trying to help her and eventually had to call the state police to get her medicines back.
A young couple, about 40 minutes from home, were stranded at the same station as me for about 16 hours just waiting for their broken bus to be replaced. Another old man had to wait for seven hours after his busdriver never showed up. Greyhound is sort of, what's a good word, inefficient. I ended up befriending both the black woman who lost her medicines and the other woman who helped me help her, so it was all good and fun for me in the end.
Once in Charleston, many hours after I was supposed to arrive, BJ came to pick me up and I got to meet Cinnamon and eat macaroni. It was heaven.

I had the best time evahr in West Virginia, hanging out with BJ and his friends, seing Andy, playing with dogs and quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had pumpkin beer, hung out with a guy dressed up as a sex offender at a Halloween party, played board games with the awesomest people ever and got to call them fuzzy little man-peaches. All in all it was amazing and I had more fun than in a very long time.

Back on the bus again. I ended up next to a middle aged man who told me an amazing story about his son, who had been hit by a drunk driver at the age of eighteen. The kid had less than one percent chance to survive. His doctor said it was the worst injury he had ever seen, and he had treated victims in Irak during Desert Storm. There was no medical reason for this kid to survive, and yet he did. Once it became clear that he was going to live, there was the money issue. The titanium plate needed to replace parts of his skull alone would cost 8 000 dollars.
Next miracle ensued, when their community raised money for them and covered the expenses for the best hospital in the country. His kid survived, is 27 years old today and has just had his first child. I ended up talking to this man for about six hours about death, depression, hope, life after death, how to deal with life before death, and much more. It was absolutely amazing. A complete stranger spoke to me about the deepest, most painful and scary experiences of life, and after we parted in Pittsburgh we still didn't know eachothers names but he knew more about me than my parents do.

I had a four hour stop in Pittsburgh, so I figured I'd phone the russians I had run into on my first busride to see if they wanted to hang out for a bit. I ended up staying until the next evening. "You can't leave before we show you some russian hospitality" they said. "Wow I'm finally about to lose my gangrape-and-murder-virginity" I thought. I ended up having the best time though, eating awesome food, checking out the city, listening to russian techno and talking about boxing in a dimly lit park all night. It was absolutely amazing and utterly international. Really, a swede living with indians in Canada, hanging out with russians in the US. Does it get any cooler than that? I didn't even want to leave the next day.

Back on the bus, I ended up next to an old MMA-fighter named Tommy. He was nice but called me sweetie pie, which I sort of wanted to make him eat his teeth for. I think I would've failed in doing so had I tried. I had my first taste of the really shitty side of America on that bus, when an old woman refused to get up to let the passenger next to her get his book from his bag. "Okay I'll just lean over you then" he said and did, and she started screaming like a banshee about him touching her. It took a while and a bunch of guards to sort out, but eventually we got on our way and back into New York.
I had a short wait before the ride back to Montreal, which was very calm and uneventful. It was funny, when I entered the US I had to go through an interview about why I wanted to visit America, who I was going to see, where I was staying, how much money I had and so on, they even searched me. Going back to Canada, all they wanted to know was if I had drugs with me. "No" I said, "okay" they went, and let me back on the bus.

Back in Montreal I didn't even have 2:50 left for the metro ticket, so I had to make Lan come pick me up. Before I actually saw him I didn't want to come back at all. I just wanted to stay on the road, keep travelling wherever I felt like and keep meeting these amazing people. Once I did see him I was really happy to be back and I could hardly wait to see Leichin. I even found myself missing Verdun. After having seen more of North America I was not impressed with Montreal anymore, but crossing the bridge back I still caught myself thinking it was nice to be home. Parts of me wanted to never leave Charleston and Pittsburgh, parts of me didn't want to return to Montreal at all and a pretty large chunk of me never wanted to stop anywhere, ever, just keep moving. I love discovering these sides of me. I've always been extremely attached to home, family and friends and now I feel free and independent in ways I never thought I could. I don't love my family or friends any less, but I don't need to have them close to not be miserable. Just being me, with myself, is enough.

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