Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Dragon Shoes

I decided to go old school for this post. Old, old school.

My sophomore year of high school I was given the awesome opportunity to go to England for summer school (program link here!). As an angsty, emo teenager is was a wonderful opportunity to go be emo somewhere else than my bedroom.

And while joking, this is sadly a little true. Being young and traveling is a double edged sword in many ways. You get to experience so many wonderful things, and it helps light a lifelong desire to travel and learn. However, your little brain is not quite developed enough to fully take in the enormity of what you experience, or to take full advantage of all that you see around you. So you can end up doing rather silly things like eating muffins in your room and calling your boyfriend instead of going to the disco. But even though I shake my head at some of my youthful choices, I still look back on that trip as a truly wonderful experience. Mostly because I bought The Dragon Shoes.

See, I was never much interested in fashion as a teenager. I rarely, if ever, had spur of the moment clothing purchases. I did not feel that I "needed" that new dress, or hat, or whatever. Until I saw those shoes.  They were lovely and perfect. They were baby pink with dark pink dragons on them. Hot pink, thick laces decorated the front. I didn't even LIKE pink. But I needed them like I've never needed anything before.

Sadly they were so, so much money. I had limited funds, and no debit card. And was way too proud to call home and ask for more money so I could buy shoes (and my mother would have rightfully told me hell no). So I waited, pining after these shoes. I waited weeks, often visiting the shoe store to make sure they were still there.

Finally, I could take it no more. They were selling out and I had to get them! So I took all of the money I had left and bought those shoes. Which would have been fine except I had 3 days left before I went home. Luckily, my love of the shoes nourished me instead of food. Ok, actually some of other people in the program heard about my poor choices and helped feed me so I didn't die.

No regrets. I still think these are fabulous! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Greyhound Stories Part 4

By the time this story takes please, Autumn of 2009, I had been traveling fairly regularly on the Greyhound and had learned all the secrets to an excellent ride. For example:

1. The bus station may forget to tell you when to board so just figure out your gate and slam your body against the door waiting. Do not move until they open the door to let you on the bus. 
2. Once on board get a window seat and pretend to fall asleep - people don't want to disturb you and will most likely not sit next to you until the bus is full. 
3. Holy poop, never sit in the back by the bathroom.  
4. Don't sit directly in front or behind children - vomit flies through the air with a surprising velocity. 
5. Be prepared to have awesome conversations with people. 
6. Except with the creepy guys who say you look like a 'sexy librarian'...more than once in a single conversation. 
7. You should probably have a fake name ready for these conversations.   

(I should note that these rules aren't just applicable for the greyhound. They are good rules for life in general)

For this particular trip I had followed the above rules, parked myself next to a woman reading a book, and was soon trying to catch up on all the sleep I wasn't getting in college.  But I quickly realized that this particular trip was not going to be filled with glorious napping; the lady who sat next to me really wanted to talk. About anything and everything - paying no head to my headphones and sleepy glares. Her age was hard to estimate; she had one of those faces where the lines are manifestations of hardship, not years. Somewhere between 30 and 50 is where I'd put my guess, but who knows if that is even close.

She talked about her job (she restored marble statues, which was actually really awesome), her convoluted love life (her rich boyfriend apparently wanted to marry her, she refused because it was not love. Or something like that) and why she got her butterfly tattoos (to remind her that you can always start over, and to never bring pain to her loved ones).

I know, you are probably thinking, "Seriously, how often do people tell you about their tattoo symbolism?" Not often enough, my friend, not often enough.

 Eventually in our rambling discussion she asked me where I was from. I mentioned my hometown, in Arizona. She immediately lights up and goes "Oh I know that place! I went to prison near there!!"
She then proceeds to warn me of the rough meth heads. "Dont worry," I say, "there is a reason I'm busing in the other direction."

We became friends after that.


Honesty time: I'm fond of these tales, and I enjoy sharing them. But when I decided to start writing them out for the blog I got hit with a crushing wave of anxiety: maybe I don't have the skill to tell these stories.

These aren't easy narratives. I am well aware that I am different from most riders I have met -- I am often economically wealthier, have a higher level of academic education, and sometimes of a different race. I have quite a bit of priveldge, and these stories have a real danger of descending into "I rode the bus, and then I found out that poor people have feelings too!!"

So I know I'm not writing the next In Search of Respect, and I am certainly not staring in a Hallmark movie. But I hope that I'm treating the subject well, and juggling the real, absurd situations with respect for the people who talk to me. If you disagree, feel free to tell me.