Sunday, February 6, 2011

16 Hours - Coming Soon

It's been a while since I've posted. Procrastinating at its best folks. So far, I'm not too impressed with 2011, but let's start where I left off.

I went home for Christmas. On the bus. It should have been a 12.5 hour trek (bad enough, right?) but, surprise surprise, the bus broke down. In the mountains. I shit you not. We were stranded out in the middle of nowhere, no cell phone service, apparently no satellite service, and interestingly enough, there was no radio communication. In fact, this bus was not even equipped with a radio. What? You mean to tell me, people are paying money to be thrown together in confined stinky quarters with a bunch of stinky drunk strangers, and you have no radio??

So many things could go wrong. I'm sure most of the world, or at least North America heard about the despicable incident on a Greyhound bus where this freak cut the head off of a young man? Well, that happened not too far from here. You would think this would translate into a change in policy, a realization at how vulnerable we are when thrown together on long trips with no security. I'm not talking a complete over-reaction like the obstacle course that is American airport security, but something.

When I arrived at the bus station in this lovely city, it was packed. Like sardines. Or a Justin Bieber concert. The station itself wreaked off alcohol, and I could of sworn the employee who took my ticket also smelled like alcohol. And you know what? Way back when I was in college, I used to take the bus a lot on short trips home (I was only a couple of hours away from home at that time) and there were many times when I suspected the bus driver of smelling like liquor. What the Hell? Is this like, part of their corporate culture??

I eventually make it on to the bus, where I am terrified I will have to spend the next 13 hours sitting with a creepy drunk. I was thankful to sit with a man who was from the same small town as me, and used to know some of my cousins (I have a lot of cousins). So I'm distracting myself as best as I can, with periodic naps that last in the seconds or minutes, and listening to music. I even watched a movie on my Netbook. But 13 hours is a long time and leaves a lot of room for things to go wrong. And they did.

We broke down in the worst place imaginable. The mountains. Thankfully, it was a rest stop with a bathroom. And we were by a creek so it was pretty. But we sat there, in the winter, for three and half hours. That's a long time to be trapped in a bus with a bunch of complete strangers. Hmm. I wonder if this is even a recipe for disaster?

Our bus driver was an idiot. He did not keep us very well informed. And maybe this is even their policy over at Greyhound. Maybe they think the less the masses know, the less chance of rebellion or some shit like that. When we first broke down, he told us that another bus was on its way, so it wouldn't be long before we will be on our way again. I'm not sure what he was smoking, or if he was just misinformed by morons, but that did not happen. At some point, our bus driver actually left the rest stop, without saying a word to us passengers. As I watched through the window, he hopped inside somebody's truck. And left us. Just left us all there together in the mountains with no information. Eventually, he returned.

Just in case you were wondering, keeping people uninformed, is not the smartest way to avoid a rebellion. There was this one loud-mouth passenger with a girlfriend and a little kid with him. He stood outside with people and worked everyone up into a frenzy, though none were as worked up as he. He was pissed. And we all were. But that was no excuse. The bus driver saw that this guy was rallying other passengers and thought, "I better get out there and try and quell the rebellion". That didn't work out so well. I watched with my fellow passengers out the window, as the man berrated the bus driver, got up in his face, swore at him, making threats and accusations, and I was thinking, how quickly this situation could escalate. And what would the rest of us do? We were helpless in the mountains, with no access to communication. No security. No way to defend ourselves or the bus driver. This was potentially very, very bad.

But, I thought with dread, it's worse than that. This is the makings of a made-for-TV movie, based on real events. Strangers thrown together on a bus, stranded in the wilderness with no way out, no contact with the rest of the world. Who will start the riot and who will be brave enough to protect the passengers?

Thankfully, it was at this time that the other bus finally showed up. Crisis averted. There will be no TV movie based on the events of that horrible night.

So that was the start of my Christmas vacation. It was an odd Christmas this year. My mom agreed that it just didn't feel like Christmas at all, and that everything was just...different. The V didn't come with me. He spent Christmas with his drunken family here because he couldn't take time off work. So I went home alone. My sister and her husband also did not go home for Christmas, so it was just me and my parents. I'm from a very small community outside of a very small town, and it's usually just plain depressing for me to go home.

It was even worse this year. My parents kept asking me what was wrong,and said that I was even quieter than usual. But I just couldn't force myself to pretend that everything was okay, that I was okay. I hate it when they notice.

To top it off, I made the mistake (at the V's insistence) of changing my relationship status on Facebook, one of the many times we broke up. And of course Facebook announces to the world that I've "gone from being in a relationship, to single". So, one of my nosy cousins came by my parents for a visit, and in front of them, asked me what was going on. Like it was her right to know, or something. Sometimes I hate FB. So I made sure to leave that feature blank now, in order to avoid the drama. And what does the annoying little gossip machine that is Facebook do? Instead of announcing, I dunno, nothing, or just announcing that I took the relationship status off of my profile, it said I am "no longer single". Fuck. Anyway, point is, because of that FB fiasco, I was constantly questioned about my relationship. And I hate that. I really do. I'm a private person and I don't like talking about my feelings, especially not with my family. Ew. I avoided the questions as much as I could, and told them we were still together, end of story.

Also unusual for the holiday season, we did not receive a horde of visitors. That was depressing. You would think then that my parents would want us to go out, visiting family and friends together, but they just wanted to stick around the house like the bunch of recluses that we are.

Another anomaly, but a good one, is that I saw my long lost friend whom I've been communicating with by phone and chat the last couple of years. I knew there wouldn't be a lot of time, because he was only in town for two days, but I didn't expect it to be a whirlwind visit after 20 years - less than an hour, after 20 years. The majority of the time, we drove around looking in vain for some place that would be open on Christmas night.

I saw him for like 2 minutes in the light while he came to my door and I introduced him to my mom who then rudely told him she doesn't remember him from my childhood. After that, we were in the dark. That added to how surreal the experience was. But those two minutes made me happy. Confirmation that he really is my childhood friend. He looked exactly the same to me. Especially those ears and his blue eyes. Even his mannerisms took me back to being a kid. The rest of the "visit" was in the dark and I couldn't clearly see him, and we just had time for small talk. He dropped me off, and after a while, I was like, did that really happen? Or did I just dream it up? The only evidence that it wasn't a dream was the fact that he gave me a Buffy comic.

I also spent some time with my best friend who moved back to our hometown with her husband and four kids. I have to admit, we've grown a part a lot over the years, and since she became this stay-at-home-mom, I've felt like I've lost my best friend. Well, that combined with the fact that I live with her cousin, so now it feels more like she's his family than my friend. It really eliminates a lot of what we would have once talked about. She became obsessed with motherhood. There is this line that I remember from the original trailer for the awesome movie "500 Day of Summer" where this guy and this girl talk about having children. And the guy asks if she thinks they would be parents or people with kids? Well my friend became a parent. A new identity. A lost best friend. She became obsessed with motherhood and babies and diapers and child-rearing books. It became all she was. And it was sad. I don't think it's necessary to change your identity like that, and I hope if I ever go down that path, I will be a person with kids, not a parent. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she seemed to be re-gaining her sense of self. I'm happy to say she is the eccentric hippie I remember. She's really exploring herself and her spirituality and seems happier for it. In fact, she is now professionally reading tea leaves. I'm astounded at the awesomeness of that! She read my leaves, and then did another clairvoyant reading. But she was tired, and I think we have too much history for it to be an unbiased reading, so I wasn't sure what to think of it. I have heard that her readings are amazingly accurate for other people though. My great grandmother used to read tea leaves in England, so my mother tells me.

Well this is turning out to be a lot longer than I anticipated. I guess I had a lot more to say than I thought. I will continue the chronology of events in another post.


A. Opstein said...

That sounds like a hectic time, but just think what a story that could eventually become! Being stranded in the middle of nowhere, the bus driver abandons you and suddenly a bear comes out of the woods! Soon, you're eating each other to survive and finding out that you're really on an island.

MaryPoppins said... might be on to something. I mean, how often can I say I've been stranded in the mountains with a bunch of weirdos?

A. Opstein said...

I would hope that you would say that it only happened once!

MaryPoppins said...

Actually, funny story (not really). It was a roundtrip ticket, and I was whining to anyone who would listen about how much I do NOT want to take the bus back. My parents were like, "oh don't worry, what are the chances that something else will go wrong?"

Can you guess what happened? That's right, we broke down. Again. In the mountains. It was for less time at least (about 1.5 hrs) and our bus driver didn't abandon us.

But what the Hell??

A. Opstein said...

No. Way. That's crazy! I would recommend hitch-hiking next time, sounds safer.

And hey: I know that we do not know each other, but I am SO sorry that things are not going well for you right now. I can relate to the terrible lonliness of not having a good friend to talk to, and I always wonder how many people actually have that great relationship where they can be comfortable around their friend (it sure seems like it's everyone but me!).

But, I am sure things will get better for you! I know that someone great will fall into your lap when you least expect it.

MaryPoppins said...

It's always nice to hear that someone can relate, though it's not nice to hear you are lonely. Best wishes to you and thanks for the encouragement!