Reading opposite blogs...
Stepping onto the Greyhound bus was one of the scariest eternities of my life. Everywhere I looked were hard faces grimacing or leering at me. My heart flopped all over in my chest as I had to quickly decide which of them I would sit by. Not many empty seats were available. Finally, I found a smile and a guy who moved his laptop out of the seat by him and motioned me over. My eyes were finally able to focus on his face. You might accuse me of being naive, but I swear he had an aura of safeness about him. I guess I had been holding my breath until I heaved out a sigh as I squeezed past him to sit by the window. I'll let you know how it goes, but I've mounted the grey dog to ride to Texas. I must admit, it would be easier if I had something better to look forward to than my destination.
I wish my car didn't have to be put out to pasture. Riding Greyhound is a trip. (Yeah, I know, bad joke.) It's quite a collection of weird characters in this giant sardine can. The bus driver is like a babysitter driving down the highway calming down the certifiably insane to the woebegone lonesome spill-his-guts- kind of guy in the middle of the night. This is all good writer's stuff. I believe that there could be a good reality show about riding Grey hound.
Last night about 2AM in LA, a girl, a poor quaking soul, got on board with fear emanating out her pours. I don't blame her. I wouldn't want my little sister to ride solo on the grey dog. So, the gentleman I am, I moved my laptop and motioned her over. To be brutally honest with myself, she was, on a scale of one to ten, a twenty, in an innocent, pretty, artless way. Maybe my altruism was more selfish in offering her the seat. I could have held it for Mr.?Ms. Cross Dresser waiting to get on behind her who was flaunting his black bra showing through his fishnet blouse. I think I'll see more onboard than I will out the window while eating up the miles to Texas.
It's still the wee hours driving through the black of night. I guess we're almost in Arizona, but can't tell. As tired as I am, sleep's been scared away. It's hard to relax sitting so close to strangers. I don't know what I would have done if this guy hadn't offered me the seat next to him. We've had a few nice conversations. I'm beginning to relax, just a teeny bit. In between word bubbles of quiet brief exchanges, I stare out the window waiting for stars to come out from behind clouds. Must be a lot of clouds. From what I can tell, this guy quit his newspaper job to become a freelance travel blogger. Kind of quirky, but nice. Says he wants to travel before he has to settle down, code for running out of money. I didn't tell him I quit my job to hitch a ride on Greyhound for Texas too. I don't plan to tell anyone what I am going there for, mostly because I don't want to think about it. I'm getting good at denial. This trip is like being suspended in the land of Greyhound Land. It's a world unto its self. The bus driver is the king. I'm yawning. That's a good thing.
Nodded off then woke up to find sleeping beauty snuggled on my shoulder. Can't say I mind but trying to sit still so as not to disturb her. So glad Mr.?Ms. Cross Dresser didn't claim this seat. This is short: don't want to wake her up.
Oh my goodness! How embarrassing!! I guess sometime last night I did fall asleep and slumped over onto the guy next to me. It could have been worse if I'd had to sit with some of those other freaks. I'm confident my eyes could never have closed if that were the case. My seatmate was nice about it though. Yes, I left a little drool wet spot on his sleeve. I hope he doesn't notice. We're coming to a fast food/rest stop. Surely we can keep our same seats. I'm sticking like a burr to this guy, except in the ladies room that is.
Sitting recharging our laptops, drinking coffee, and eating a breakfast sandwich with this girl- oh, her name is Emilie-. We're both becoming more comfortable. I agreed to be her knight in shining armor, my description, not hers. I don't blame her for being creeped out with most of our fellow passengers. One of us will be the first onboard each stop and save the seat for the other. Did I mention that her eyes are as golden as a mountain lion's? My instincts say to run for my life, but I can't move mesmerized by them. I had to run from my last job because of another pair of eyes. How was I to know she was married? Like Joseph in the Bible, when I realized what was happening, I fled even as she grasped at me not wanting to let me go. It was the spur to my gut which sent me on to my new lonesome highway gig.
I got on first to grab our seats and am now waiting for the fair maiden to climb the steps with our phones and laptops. Did I mention that she is more than pretty? Emilie is beautiful. I. Must. Keep. My. Armor. On. I can't be wounded again so soon. On guard!
I can't tell you what a relief it is to meet this fine fellow. His name is Peter, by the way. He has somehow made me want to trust him. I think of him in my head as Rock, Petra, as the name means in a biblical sense. Anyway, he feels like a strong shelter to me on this crazy trip. I hope I am not being too needy. Can't tell you what a sense of calm it gives me to climb the bus steps and find him waiting for me rather than playing Russian roulette with other passengers. I must seem pitiful, but so be it.
I feel like I've known Emilie my whole life. It's crazy how we can talk for hours. We know more about each other than ninety-nine per cent of the other people in my life. The only thing she won't talk about is why she is on this trip, is very evasive in fact. She suddenly gets nervous if I try to get her to talk about getting to our destination. I told her that I have always wanted to wander around San Antonio. If I like it, I might eventually find work there. Emilie becomes tightlipped and changes the subject. Hmm. Doesn't she know that her mysterious persona is appealing, fascinating me? She is quite irresistible in fact. I'm must proceed with caution. This bus ride won't last forever, and then we'll never see each other again. Who knew I would wish this trip could go on and on. Oh, and I did ask. She's not married, is unattached in fact.
Maybe it's the lack of comfort and sleep, but I get more nervous the closer we get to Texas. Peter hints around that he wants to know why I am on the trip. The most I will tell him is that I am going to Houston because a distant relative has asked for my help. I'm not lying. It's true that my father is distant, has been most of my life. Oh well, I'm on my way to his rescue. I couldn't turn him down. Just writing this makes my hands shake.
I've been saving the seat for Peter. Here he is now bringing me a soda. How sweet. I am down to my last $10. I think he's noticed how careful I am with my money. I don't think I'll be eating much the rest of the trip.
Emilie doesn't eat enough to sustain a bird. Most of the time when I offer to treat her to something, she refuses. So, when it's her turn to hold our seat on the bus, I just bring along an extra sandwich, fries, and a diet coke. No refunds kinda thing.
Today we got past the stories of our education, our jobs, our friends, and childhoods and shared our souls. I confessed to her what happened with the coat I left behind in the other woman's hands. Somehow it feels good to be able to talk about it with someone. I couldn't even tell my boss why I left so suddenly. God is gracious, but it is harder to forgive myself for being so stupid. It leaves me a little fragile in the love department. I can't believe she hasn't had any serious relationships, except with God. She's deep there.
How do you have a relationship with someone when you are about to step off the bus, and she will go on? Both of us it appears will be homeless for a bit. She calls it making "arrangements when she gets there." Thankfully, there's email.
Today when we got our first sight of the Rio Grande River, a bunch of little kids started chanting, "Mexico (Meh-he-co)." I guess the cardboard shacks on the other side of the water appealed somehow to them. I am thankful for this great country. I've been helping a young mom when we stop, holding her baby for her so she can use the restroom. He's adorable with his nearly black hair and eyes, chubby as all get out. I feel privileged that she trusts me enough to do this for her, trusts that I'm not a baby snatcher. She doesn't speak English very well but knows how to say, "Thank you."
I've never shared my heart with anyone this much before. It's weird how trust works. Maybe it's because I know I'll never see him again that I can let Peter see parts in my heart that I've hidden from others. Maybe the Greyhound is like a giant confessional booth in the dark of night. He's a believer. I thought so. It must be why I was drawn to him in the beginning and felt safe. I still can't bring myself to talk about this trip though and what lies ahead. I guess it's fear.
Nice to see the hill country I've heard so much about. It has it's own brand of pretty.
Sometimes Emilie gets so quiet and looks so sad, it breaks my heart. I'm praying she will talk about it. It's weird but I feel like I will be abandoning her when I get to San Antonio and she will go on to Houston. Once I caught a tear trailing down her cheek and wiped it away. When I asked her if she wanted to talk about it, she shook her head no. It kills me not to be able to help her. She let me put my arm around her though. Her head resting up against me feels so right, that it makes me ache inside. I tell myself it's just compassion, but deep down I know I want to kiss her.
I've never met someone like Peter. I may never again. He is so open and kind. He puts the gentle in gentleman. I can't even imagine what this trip would have been like without him. He's been feeding me since my money ran out. It's humbling, but I'm so grateful. He's like an angel, but when I laid my head up against him with his arm around me, he emanated manliness, warm and cozy with a strong heartbeat. I could get used to this, but alas, he is getting off soon. I probably will never see him again. Now, the tears that threaten are more than just fear of what lies ahead, but of loss, losing him.
Suddenly Emilie started crying. I hugged her tighter as she muffled her tears pressing them into my chest. Finally, she was able to speak to tell me in a whisper what was so heavy on her. Deep breaths. She was going to see her estranged father in the hospital in Houston. He's dying and needs a kidney. The man has asked her to give him one of hers. They are a match. Wow! He's never been there for her, hasn't seen her since he walked out on them when she was a little girl, but she is willing to sacrifice for him. She is afraid, scared to death. Emilie has never even had her tonsils out. She will be alone. He sent her money, but she had to use most of it to pay her last rent. Emilie will get off in Houston and have to show up all crumpled and sleep deprived at the hospital there with, as she says, nothing to offer but her kidney. I have never met a finer person than this. She lives this verse...
"Greater love hath no one than this, that one down his (her) life for his (her) friends."John 15:13
How about for her deadbeat dad?
Emilie is the most Christ-like person I've ever known, laying down her life for someone who is unworthy of her love. She let me wipe away her tears with my hands. I kissed her. Her face was upturned looking at me with those golden eyes of trust and smiling through her tears. It was sweetness itself, leaving a lingering desire. Then we just held on to each other. Her arm around my waist hugging me is the best feeling I've ever had. Well, the kiss was up there too.
I hope the bus breaks down. I don't want to let go, to get off and walk away from her. I'm so torn up.
Peter is wonderful. He let me cry all over him, kissed my salty tears away, then found my lips. Can you be in heaven on a Greyhound bus? I feel better now knowing he will be praying for me, knowing he's out there, and he cares. I won't feel so alone now. It's tearing my heart up knowing he gets off in San Antonio in just a few short miles. I thank God that there was a Peter out there that God put in my life for this little capsule of time when I needed him.
I'm here. San Antonio. But I'm feeling crushed, I can't take a deep breath. She got off with me for a moment to hug me goodbye. The kiss promised more though. I will find her again. God, how can I abandon her in her time of need? I feel like such a selfish dolt leaving her like this. I can't. I went to the window and bought a ticket for Houston. While she's in the restroom, I'm saving a seat for her just like I have been since L.A. I'm beginning to think I will always want her beside me. There's only one Emilie, no one else.
I was crying when I got back on the bus, a real mess. I felt like my heart would shatter like glass with every beat. Finally, I looked updreading to find an available seat and saw a smiling face nodding to the empty seat beside him. Peter is waiting on the bus for me. I stood there stunned until the people behind me started pushing me forward. We held onto each other and he could have kissed me all the way to Houston. I feel so safe in his arms. Oh, and when we got to Houston and found my father's room, he told me he was sorry for all the trouble. The doctors just told him he was too sick to be a candidate for a transplant afterall; his heart is too weak for surgery. I'm sad for him, but he let Peter pray for him. I'm hoping he makes peace with God before his time comes. Oh, and Peter asked my father for permission to ask for my hand. There I was in a sterile hospital room with beeps and tubes and bad news when suddenly everything was beautiful. My dad took my hand with tears streaming down his cheeks, told me he was sorry for failing to be a real father to me, then put my hand in Peter's. It was the happiest I've ever seen him. We'll stay with my dad for now and help take care of him. Peter suggested a wedding in San Antonio. Do they do weddings in front of the Alamo? He wants a reception on the River Walk. Oh, and his family will fly out: no Greyhound for them.
You really did it Greyhound, you sly ol' dog, you. I'll bet there aren't too many who meet and fall in love on that long lonesome highway. Good dog, Greyhound.
How beautiful you are!
You eyes are like doves."
"How handsome you are, my beloved,
And so pleasant!
Indeed, our couch (Greyhound seat) is luxuriant!"
(Song of Solomon 1:15-16)