Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Road To Hell

It started with a good idea.

The 3-day holiday weekend! Total bliss! Well, except for the fact that I was home alone gazing out the window at heavy fog with no plans whatsoever.

This was during one of my infrequent "dry spells". Or maybe I should say I was "between engagements". Whatever the case, I had just ended a relationship with Mr. Wrong and the next Mr. Wrong had not yet appeared.

The call from Cassie came early on Saturday morning. "What are you doing for the weekend?" Cassie lived in Sacramento, a couple of hours away from San Francisco. I responded with my plan to sleep late, watch television, and read books. Cassie said, "Why don't you come up here? We can sit by the pool, work on our tans, drink wine, gossip, and generally just relax." I told her that sounded great, but without a car, I really didn't think I could do it.

"Don't be silly!", Cassie said. "Take the Greyhound!" If she had told me to take the space shuttle, I wouldn't have been more surprised. Although I was in my early 30's at the time, I had never taken a Greyhound bus. I had seen those buses on the road, but I'd never actually even thought about going anywhere on one. It just seemed slightly seedy to me.

Cassie went on to describe the 80 degree weather, the cute guys that just moved into her apartment complex, and all the joys I would not be experiencing in cold and foggy San Francisco. "Oh, come on, Linda! Don't be so prissy!"

I told her I would call and see about schedules and get back to her. I called Greyhound and I was told the price and the schedule. I decided to make this an adventure and just do it. (I could have written the Nike slogan at that point in my life.)

Rather than getting "packed" for a trip, I decided I would just take a Macy's paper shopping bag and throw my things in there. I didn't need much. I packed a bikini, underwear, shorts and a tank top along with a big handful of tampons (because you just never know, or at least I never really knew) and my cosmetics and toothbrush! I also brought a couple of books to read on the trip. I think I was out the door within a half an hour.

The Greyhound station in San Francisco is in an area called "The Tenderloin". It is a very blighted neighborhood. Hookers and pimps all over the street outside of the terminal. There were several flat-eyed cops who looked at everyone funny, even me. Inside the terminal, I quickly found the ticket window and got my round-trip ticket for Sacramento. The bored clerk pointed me in the direction of my bus and I walked through some pretty shady looking characters to get there.

There was already a line formed and I got in line right behind a couple of young sailors. The sailors were a little intoxicated, but not really rude. The bus arrived and we got on. I was in the next to last row with the sailors in the seats behind me. I put my bag on the floor and opened my book.

Since I was at the back of the bus, a lot of people came past me when they wanted to use the restrooms. (It's a two hour trip, people. Pee before you leave home!) Of course, I think some of them went into the bathroom to shoot their heroin. This was sort of a scary cast of characters.

The sailors were having a bitch session behind me and they were also drinking beer. I could hear the "pop tops" being snapped every few minutes.

It was only a two hour trip but it seemed a lot longer. We finally arrived in Sacramento and I stood up and grabbed my bag and got in the aisle to depart the bus.

I was shocked when the bottom of my bag opened up and all of my "stuff" rolled up the aisle in front of me. Tampons spewed everywhere, little items of clothing landing in the muck on the floor, my pitiful toothbrush laying there. I guess the sailors had been drinking their beer and leaving the cans on the floor under my seat where the spillage caused the shopping bag to fail.

A very kind gentleman gave me a plastic bag and I grabbed my panties and swimsuit and cosmetics bag and toss them in. I ignored the tampons all over the floor.

A young man's voice, one of the sailor's, said "Miss, here's your toothbrush!" I said "Oh thank you." (Yeah, sailor boy, I'm really going to use an toothbrush that came off a Greyhound bus floor.)

I wasn't even at the swimming pool or in the sun and I was already having an adventure! Lucky me!

That is the first, last, and only time I ever rode on a Greyhound bus.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Elephants On A Bridge

An elephant never forgets.

I think I've heard that all my life. My elephants have seen so many things. They were around for my first marriage, the birth of my first child, and all the events that followed in my life.

These elephants cost me an entire paycheck when I was 17 and right out of high school. I found them at an antique shop and fell in love with them. They are carved onyx and have ivory tusks and I was told that they were very old when I bought them.

The children that came into my life, my own and others, broke some of the ivory tusks off while playing with the elephants. I was sorry that happened, but if something must remain untouched, I see no reason to have it. The elephants have a small post on their feet and they can be taken off of the bridge. I see the appeal of touching them.

When I was younger, I didn't realize that elephants must always face the main entry door in a home. If you make sure that you position them that way, the wrong people won't come in. My ignorance cost me dearly.

There was the husband that was a disaster. Then there was the next wrong choice in a partner. Then there was the thief. Then there was the policeman and his handcuff games. I could go on, but I won't.

When I finally realized how the elephants should be placed, my whole life got a lot better. I stopped having the wrong people come into my home.

The man that looked good and had game still called me with his evil but appealing suggestions, but I didn't invite him to come and visit. The neighbor woman who wanted to gossip about other neighbors was kept on the porch. The out-and-out goofballs just stopped knocking at the door.

That's not saying I gave up all of my wicked companions, but I just went to their place instead.