WEDNESDAY, The day before Thanksgiving
I woke up early again. I hit the ground running. I began my preparations for my trip home (physically and mentally). Physically I began to gather up my things. I had to return the car rental. Because I was traveling on Thanksgiving and the bus station would be closed tomorrow I had to go check my bag in early.
My OCD forces me to keep checking the drawers, the closet and under the beds. I know I didn’t put anything in the drawers or closet. The room has platform beds. I wouldn’t be able to put anything under there even if I wanted to. Nevertheless, I keep checking. It shaved a few minutes from of my rental deadline of 10:30am.
I check the website for information before I leave the hotel. It opens at 7:00am. I plan to get there at 8am. I get to the bus station. This Greyhound Bus station is very underwhelming.
I get there at 8am and it’s closed. I look at the sign with the station hours. It says it doesn’t open until 8:30am. Ok- now I have a half an hour to kill. That’s fine. It gives me a chance to scout out the place.
As I sit in the car people watching, I notice quite a bit. This bus station seems to attract a few types of people: young travelers, down-on-their-luckers, and me. The young travelers had the big hiking backpacks, a few food bags, athletic sunglasses-overall very practical gear. The down-on-their-luckers had a good sized bag, got abruptly dropped off at the curb, stood outside to smoke and converse, and just looked worn out. Then there was me! I was overdressed, too much make-up, big hair, no bag, and too excited it seemed for my present company. What all of them had in common was hospitality, a calmness. Even though the place opened late, no one, except me was even remotely bothered or upset. I looked like a rageoholic knocking on the door.
As I stand in line waiting my turn I look around the station. Again, caught off guard by the lack of size. It was a dingy off white room the size of a large living room. I was told by one of the locals that it used to be open 24-7 but due to the spike in the homeless population they began closing at night. This was the first year it would be closed on thanksgiving day.
The polite lady at the counter was quick. I still was behind schedule. I try to make up some time. I hurry to the Walmart for a few last minute items. I’m racing through the store like they are taping an episode of Supermarket Sweep. I’m out of there in a few minutes. But I’m still behind schedule.
I hurry to the gas station to fill the tank. I definitely don’t want to be charged extra money for that. In my haste at the station, I manage to cut my knuckle, spill some coffee, buy some lottery tickets and make it out of there in a few minutes.
Off to return this car. I get there in good time, about 10 minutes before it was due back.
I go have a seat on one of the benches near the car return area and soak in the mountain views. I cannot get over how beautiful the weather is here. You think Colorado and you may think cold, snowy. It is warmer here than in NJ.
I try in vain the take a picture of the views; my phone does me no good. This is a site you’d have to see in person to experience the godly influence. It is a natural wonder that instantly makes you feel every inch of your humanity, your frailty. You feel insignificant yet privileged to see this.
Once I stopped drooling over the scenery, I hightailed it back to downtown Colorado Springs via Lyft. My driver this time was Malcolm. He was a nice older guy. When I got into the car he asked if he could turn on his Christmas music. He said he wife won’t let him play it until after Thanksgiving. I said of course. I could use the cheering up on account of the morning I had.
The radio is belting out one classic holiday tune after another. I reminisce about our Parker holiday concerts. My grandparents would play all the classics, traditional, R&B, and kids versions of Christmas songs. One minute we were Alvin & the Chipmunks. The next minute we were pretending to be the Temptations. We would sing those songs until the tape popped and we never grew tired of it.
“Here ya go!”, said Malcolm. I scramble to gather my bag totally lost in my head. I thank him, wish him a happy holiday.
Back to my normal travel activities (take the public transportation)-I got a chance to actually take the bus here. I took the Metro from the college to the quaint downtown area. I teased my son about the small downtown. I said calling it downtown is kind of overhyping it. I told him from now on I will call it “over yonder” because it really is right down the street. You are setting yourself up for disappointment calling it anything else.
I get off the bus at the bus terminal that looked like a few parking spaces. I aimlessly wander around Over Yonder. There are boutiques, small unique restaurants, thrift stores, tattoo shops, etc. I thought the Over Yonder section would be overrun with weed dispensaries, junkies and bong shops. It wasn’t. I also was surprised by a couple of things: 1. There is no sight of Dunking Donuts and 2. There were chain restaurants (Arby’s and Pizza Hut to name a few).
Later that Wednesday night my son and I decided to catch a movie-Thor Ragnarok. We both had already saw the Justice League movie. While I liked it, he was not impressed. We managed to pick the most secluded little movie theatre in town. The downside (or upside) to “winging it”. We got there super early. since neither of us wanted popcorn for dinner, we had a pizza delivered to the movie theatre. We stood outside, ate our delicious pizza with extra marinara sauce, and had delightful dinner conversation. The ever present mountain views fade to black. They disappear in plain sight.
At the end of the night, as my son walked back to his dorm I got very emotional. I watched as if he was that little kid walking to school alone for the first time. In that moment I was overcome with the feeling of my age and how much things have changed and will continue to change. It was not a sadness, merely a long overly dramatic sigh. I was also missing my other sons and thinking about my family.
The last update from my mother was that Pop has MRSA, has been moved to a single room (isolated) and will be staying in the hospital.
Again, I’m thinking WTF? Not like this God. This man has worked his whole life taking care of people. Don’t take him without him being able to enjoy these last few years. God damn it. I hate that I’m thinking about him dying. All my selfish ass can think about is how I’m not ready to deal with that.
I go to my room and I cry like I haven’t cried in years. It was ugly and it was served with wine. A red semi-sweet I found during my wandering. So while I cried I sipped and sipped then cried. I did that for hours.
THURSDAY (Happy Thanksgiving)
Again, I’m up early. This time I didn’t spring out of bed like previous days. It was a slow sloth-like crawl. I was excited about cooking with my son.
I checked out of my hotel and casually stroll to his apartment. As I cooked him and his roommate keep me company. We laughed, talked and sampled. They could have just been humoring my old behind, but I had a good time. I met another one of their friends, a young lady. These three were talking about cartoons and Pokémon. It was the most wholesome thing I’ve seen college kids doing in a long time. I swear just when you think the world is a big rotation piece of cosmic shit, God will gift you an innocent moment. It was also interesting to see men actually being friends with a woman. Dare I say progress…
They have enough food to last for a few days. I introduced them to the awesomeness of the turkey tenderloin and herb crusted potatoes.
All too soon it was time for me to make my way to my bus. I got sad all over again. It’s weird and complex to want to stay and leave at the same time.
My son insisted on walking my there and seeing me get on the bus. I joked with him that he is treating me like a house guest you want gone or that keeps coming back. He simply said, “I want to make sure you get on the bus safely mom.” He sounded like an overprotective big brother. I felt proud. I did good.
The Bus Odessy Home…
4:05pm, Cue the angry bus driver. Maybe he is upset because he is working on the holiday or just hates the job. “Ticket PLEASE!” This being my first time on a Greyhound, I walk up to him and try to build a rapport. “hi. here ya go sir. Do you want me to put the bag in there? Or do you take it?” He replies, ‘I got it. Get on.” And off we go.
My first transfer is in Denver, CO. I was down here the other day with my son. I’m expecting something nice, modern and clean. I arrive at the Greyhound bus station at around 5:40pm. I go to the restroom. GOBSMACKED, Flabbergasted, YiKes!!! Ok without making anyone vomit in their mouths I will try to accurately depict the scene I had the displeasure of walking in on. At one of the sinks there is a lady changing her clothes. She is in her underwear, has one tube sock on. Leaning on the sink for balance, she is putting on the other sock. I look, pause and begin to look in the stalls. One nightmare after the other reside in these spaces. I find one remotely clean. How? I have not idea, but there it was.
There are some sketchy looking characters, but no more than any big city. Security and the police were vigilant. They knew the regulars and the visitors, who they gave extra attention. They checked tickets and asked the non-ticket holders to scram.
7:15pm, Enter the competent no-holds bar driver of BTW company. I was standing in line waiting to board. He said, “come on let’s get this started.” There was an inebriated passenger trying to board. He politely but firmly denied that request. Called security and told the guy to get on the next bus. Bam. Upon departing the station, he made it clear he was not having any shenanigans on this bus. (Inside I was applauding him.) Just by doing his job, he made my trip that much more enjoyable.
I’m on my way to Omaha, Nebraska. In a few hours I will be 39 years old. WOW. Still I’m hit with multiple emotions. Instead of fighting them I deal with them by acknowledging them. Then I am able to move onto the next thing.