A man's work is doing hat he's supposed to do, and that's why he needs a catastrophe now and again to show him a bad turn isn't the end...." - William Least-Heat Moon, The Blue Highway
You're mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are. -- Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass
|Harrison Street Station, Chicago|
By the time I got to Chicago, I'd been on a bus more than 12 hours. And though I was a little tired, it was more out of anxiousness than exhaustion. Though I was able to get out of Minneapolis on my own steam, and was on my way back to the Ohio Valley more or less on the schedule established by the deadline on my long gone Discovery Pass, I was traveling with a greater sense of urgency than I had felt in a long while. Urgency mixed with no small amount of nervousness.
When Dave and Jamie dropped me off at bus station, it was about an hour and a half before my scheduled departure time. 11:30 at night and the temperature in downtown Minneapolis was a slightly less sweltering 93 degrees. The air didn't exactly feel like hot ash when it hit my lungs; but with the fire and brimstone summer I'd experienced so far, my standards for such qualifying remarks were, you might say, fairly high.
Let's be honest. I escaped the monsoon season in Arizona, only to make it to Colorado, where the whole fucking world was on fire. It takes more than steam rising off the cement near midnight for me to start thinking that Earth's core opened up somewhere near Coalinga Junction (where, if there's a door to the fiery underworld, it surely exists) California and was burning through the thin skin of the world bit by dusty bit.
As per the information I gleaned from my post ragtime conversation with Shaniqua (or was it Shauntell?) at the Customer Assistance line for Greyhound Bus Lines, I set up a password so the ticket agent would know that I am, in fact, myself. When I walked up to the counter and gave the very bored and not over-worked ticket agent purchase reference number, I expected him to ask for the password that I had chosen carefully to establish my right to ride the bus. But he didn't ask for it. All he did was print out the ticket, and have me sign a receipt.
I thought of my friend Dave, heading back with his wife Jamie to their apartment in Bloomington (a burb of Minneapolis). When I told him they would let me ride without a picture ID he shook his head, muttered something about Homeland Security and something that sounded like
"Well, what's one more terrorist..."
I didn't think he was talking about me. While it is true that I was mistaken for a Black man once and a Mexican twice, I didn't think my beard was sufficiently long enough to be racially profiled for a terror suspect. Maybe. Actually, with the way things are going in the Grand American Republic, that might be outside the realm of possibility.
But let's put it off as long as we can, shall we?
18 hours from Minneapolis to Cincinnati... my long burn on a Greyhound, at least for a while. The urgency that was propelling me forward, and the fear that I would not be able to stay there and find the relaxation and respite I needed.
The trip westward and back had been a good one, and I was looking forward to more. I wanted to spend some time on home ground, try and recollect the notes that had been lost when my journal and ID went missing. I wanted to wallow in some warmth and sweet solace; I wanted to plan my southern jaunt. I knew I would have to go back to Mount Carroll at some point, check the mail piling up in the post office, file for divorce, see friends there. I wanted to be able to relax, too. And reflect on my experiences, enjoy those moments among family, friends, and loved ones.
I had pretty good luck, as buses go... only getting an old bus from Indianapolis to Dayton Trotwood. Leaving Minneapolis, and from Chicago to Indy, I managed to get newer buses with electric outlets, WiFi, and air conditioning that mostly worked. From Minneapolis to Chicago, I was able to stretch out and sleep a little... though not much. I was low on money, having to spend more than I would have liked on my bus ticket. It occurred to me that I would have to find other, even cheaper modes of transportation to fill the gaps... maybe even provide a longer term solution for traveling on the cheap.
Thanks for reading. I'll be off the road... sort of... for a bit... but doing some visiting, and planning for my southern jaunt. Keep reading for details. And remember, if you like it, feel free to share the link. And if you're feeling REALLY partial, consider a donation to the travel fund. (Gawd Bless!)