Bus 6513, 8:30 PM, January 4, 2011

I was about to embark on a move from Olympia, Washington to Cleveland, Ohio. This situation sounded sticky, but it didn’t bother me that much, given that I’m known to find my way into the most uncomfortable of situations with seemingly little to no effort. Naturally, I opted against a flight and decided to Go Greyhound! The journey would take three days. I was to depart from Olympia at 8:30 PM Tuesday night and arrive at 11AM Friday morning in the Buckeye State. It was time to get prepared; damn, my cough was awful, though.

I had been living in the Evergreen State since I was eighteen, but recent events had left me homeless, jobless, and generally broken. I had sold all of my possessions, save a bag of clothes and a few condoms; not that I had been using them much, but who knows. When you bus across the country, as I would soon find out, anything can happen. After six years in Olympia, I had nothing to show for it but track marks and a drinking problem.

I started drinking early Tuesday morning, partly to see all my favorite bars for the last time and partly to chase away the magic mushroom hangover I had from a night of watching the lake turn into a city. I lugged my bags around from bartender to bartender, ordering my double whiskey coke and bidding them farewell, and by 4PM I had readied my provisions for the trip. One pack of American Spirit cigarettes in decorative tin: check. One 750 milliliter lightweight travel bottle of Old Crow bourbon: check. $35 in United States Federal Reserve notes: check. One Washington state EBT card with a credit of $158: check. Two 24 ounce bottles of Pepsi: check. Nearly dead MP3 player with USB connectable charger: check. Cell phone with USB connectable charger: check. Can of cashews: sure, why not?

Strangely enough, my companions, who had been so adamant about seeing me off last night, were still sleeping or otherwise disposed. That’s when I met Chris. It started innocently enough, exchanging bullshit at the empty goth bar, yada yada this, yada yada that. I was fairly buzzed by this point, and upon announcing my farewell and fuck you to Olympia (then mentioning to the bartender at this particular bar that on New Year’s Eve I had been in her establishment tripping balls on LSD), he started buying my drinks.

“I’ve got his next one.” He motioned towards my glass.

The young, long-haired, obviously Olympian brunette bartenderess reached for my glass, exposing her unshaved underarms.

“It’s my saliva and I want to drink it.” Sluuuuurrrrrrrrp.

”Whiskey double?” She looked at my glass, then me, then him. He smiled and nodded. I smiled. Good man. What a good, good man. She turned and grabbed a fresh glass, pouring a slightly less liberal amount than before and topping it off with cola.

“Want some water to even that out?” she suggested. I just laughed and raised my glass to my new best friend. We sucked down our drinks and I briefly considered buying the next round out of courtesy, but decided fuck it. I was heading the hell out of this joint, never to return.

As the time to my departure forever drew closer and closer and the goth bar became more boring and dull, we headed out to the bar closest to the bus station. I stumbled around corners hauling the last of my possessions, slurring my tales of adventure to my new friend. Upon arrival at the next pub, he ordered me another whiskey coke and a shot of “black vodka.”

Oh fuck. This never ends well, but I was a fearless warrior headed off to battle the most dangerous enemy of all, the Great Greyhound!

My tall friend, who wasn’t suffering from the same post-shroom head-fuzz I was, arrived with a hug to see me off with a bang. I honestly cannot remember if he bought me a drink, but I do remember playing pool. For realism’s sake, let’s just say I lost. My paranoia-ridden shroom buddy also arrived, well-rested and smiling partially for the same reasons I was. Through this blur, the time on the clock ran out, the drinks had to be guzzled, and the going had to get going on. We marched our way to the station, my luggage being carried by those closest to me (and Chris).

It would seem I was far too intoxicated to be able to Go Greyhound. The toothless black bus captain was having none of my shenanigans. “He is hammered, I can’t let him on this bus!” and God knows he was right. Luckily for me, I’ve always had a few good men at my back. I think it is painfully obvious to me at 23 years of age that if I hadn’t had folks bail me out from time to time (sometimes literally), I would more likely than not be dead on a sidewalk with seagulls shitting on my forgotten and deservingly lifeless corpse. I had to ask the details of this when I awoke some time later, myself toothless and nearing Portland. It would seem that my tall friend inquired if the driver “took tips” and handed him $15. The driver obviously agreed, but before I was on the bus, my new friend Mr. Chris took the man around the corner and presumably gave him $20 (or a blowie) and asked him to take care of me. Here’s the kicker: he did take care of me. There is a photo of myself and the driver standing in front of the bus I don’t remember being taken. I was smiling, my teeth still in my head, and the bus driver was smiling, now $35 richer.


For all installments of “My Love and Peace Letter to Greyhound,” click here.