bus diaries

While migrating my blog from WordPress to Hugo + GitHub Pages, I found two old diary entries from last autumn, a period of life when I rode buses a lot. They are copied below.

oct 28, 2015

they told me not to, so i’m taking the bus from downtown LA to LAX. on my right, a man is asking everyone except me for 50 cents. everyone except me is a black guy.

the bus stops for the zillionth time and a high schooler in a white t-shirt with some arm tattoos gets on. he sits down to my left and asks me what my arm tattoo is of. i start explaining particle physics. he asks what the hell i’m doing on the bus in LA. “hanging out,” i shrug. he thinks i am 19 years old and smart and beautiful and cool so he asks me out. i say sorry i live in san francisco, i am on my way to the airport, and just for the record, i am 24 years old. the guy next to him hears this and high-fives me because he used to live in oakland. the kid asks me if i could please change my flight so we can chill. i say no. then he says, “you are the dopest girl i’ve ever met. imma get off the bus and call my friend and tell him ‘bout you.” i say thanks. he remembers i’m not from south LA so he tells me it’s a real bad neighborhood and i should not talk to anyone if i get off the bus here. i say thank you, that information may be relevant to my immediate perambulations. the kid is obviously a bit sad we can’t hang out, so we say our goodbyes as he is getting off the bus to go to his friend’s house. i tell him he is young and i’m sure he will meet lots more people on the bus in the future.

the guy from Oakland starts to play rap music at full volume on his phone. the man on my right leans over to him and whispers, “50 Cent?” i tell him, no sir, i believe this track is by Biggie. “that’s right,” he nods, as the guy from Oakland hands him 50 cents.

nov 11, 2015

assuming you don’t have actual sleeping pills, the trick is to drink way too much alcohol the night before and then eat enough pasta in the morning before getting on the bus that you pass out as soon as you hit the highway. pasta is basically a date rape food, in case you somehow haven’t noticed. when you get on the bus, it’ll probably be half full of lonely-looking people with deep lines of weariness creased in their drooping faces. they shuffle onto the bus, reluctantly set their things in the adjacent seats, plug in their earbuds, and let their eyelids float down slowly like gentle sea creatures. the bus takes you from boston to new york city for just $14 and it only explodes catastrophically sometimes.

before i pass out, i stare out the window at chunks of highway blurring by. it’s so fucking ugly here, you have no idea. the sky is the color of dirty dishwater. the sky pisses cold rain indiscriminately onto decrepit warehouses and rusty gas stations and weather-chipped rest stop signs creaking out their last desperate cries of dreary pretend-hospitality. it’s 3 in the afternoon and getting dark, which is such bullshit. really, nothing quite compares to the desolate feeling of sitting on a $14 bus surrounded by sad sleepy strangers while the feeble daylight dissolves into lonely darkness on a rainy afternoon in the middle-of-nowhere, connecticut (?). everyone obviously knows that the grip of winter is clenching tighter around their battered shoulders with every passing day now but nobody wants to talk about it. nobody wants to talk at all.

i hate it here. i miss it too. california turns everyone into sun-drenched polyester-clad ingrates, drunk on their own invincibility against the gentlest of elements. self-sufficiency is cheap in kind climates; rarely do you crave friendly company to pass the endless hours of icy drizzly darkness, nor do you exchange parsimoniously-heartfelt smiles of shared hardship with your neighbor while numbly stabbing your shovels into the frozen sidewalk. but when you wake up in the middle of the night to reach for a warm comforting hand that isn’t there, at least you’re not shivering.

i probably should have had more pasta.