“No vacation goes unpunished.” ~Karl Hakkarainen
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ~Lin Yutang
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” ~G.K. Chesterton
When the guy across the aisle from us began discussing stabbings & which mixture of drugs enabled him to best endure such an incident, I knew that I had had enough of fucking Greyhound.
We arrived at the Greyhound station in Denver after our brief stop in Amarillo. We had 2 hours to stand in a line in front of the door where the bus would arrive. Sucking down our mediocre & over-priced nachos, Olivier & I observed that while the bus station in Denver was larger & cleaner than what we’d grown accustomed to, being forced to watch Fox News on the overhead TV screens negated size & cleanliness.
We were almost there. Just another 45 minutes on the bus from Denver to Ft. Collins & the shitty bus ride would be over… & we’d only be arriving 1 day late. Yes, we spent an extra 24 hours bent over while Greyhound stuck it to us.
Finally, we boarded the bus to Ft. Collins – an hour late, no reason given. An enormous man from Tennessee sat across the aisle & just in front of us. He seemed to only speak gibberish that was indecipherable. Olivier & I watched in helpless horror as he removed his shirt, sitting in his seat topless.
“Ok,” I said. “That’s a clear indication that it’s time to get off the fucking bus.”
“Oh my Gawd,” Olivier said. “That’s so fucked up, I don’t even wanna think about it. We have to go before he takes something else off.”
Luckily, we arrived in Ft. Collins moments later, where a friend was waiting to pick us up, in spite of the fact that it was 1:00 in the goddamn morning.
Now the next week until our flight home to France would be easy. Well… easier than a cross-country trip on Greyhound.
Sure, we had shopping to do. We had precious American products to buy – important things like Pop-Tarts, Levi’s & Ranch Dressing.
We had very important places to go to…
I hadn’t been home for 2 years, so I had dozens of people to see. That meant a hell of a lot of socializing. Let me just say this about socializing: I don’t like it. I’m not sociable & regardless of how much I may like someone, I’m not one to call & chat on the phone, or make big plans to get together with them.
Yeah… & party planning… not real big on that, either.
But, I managed to plan a couple of parties – by “parties”, I mean set a date & time for a bunch of people to go to a bar, where I would be drinking.
For the most part, this worked pretty well. Most people have no problem being told to go to a bar. If they’re free, they go. If they’re busy, they don’t. Simple.
New Year’s Day found us at a bar in the town where I grew up, a town that I despise & become slightly nauseous upon entering the city limits: Longmont, CO.
But, I admit… swilling Guinness with people that I haven’t seen in 2, 10 or even 20 years was all right… as far as socializing goes.
It didn’t suck, is what I’m saying.
However, I had planned a 2nd gathering with a different group of friends for the following night. It should have been easy. Go to a bar… or do not go to a bar. Instead, I had to stop checking my email due to the slew of messages that I was receiving.
“Um… yeah. I don’t wanna do that. Maybe you could make time just for me.”
“Well, I don’t want to go to THAT bar. Maybe we can go somewhere else.”
“I’m not going if THEY’RE going.”
“I’m not going unless (insert name here) is going.”
I began to feel as though I was planning a birthday party for a group of spoiled Jr. High kids. In the end, I gave up, I stopped checking my emails & messages. With the Peril in Pennsylvania, the Voyage through the Various Circles of Hell & a full itinerary of things to do in Colorado, I just couldn’t find the time to cater to any last-minute whining, or appease any complaints.
Then again, I’ve never been much of a people-pleaser.
In the end, the quibbling & moaning was ignored, beer was drunk, food was eaten, laughs were had & butter knives were wielded… for some reason.
A week later, Olivier & I found ourselves in an airport in Salt Lake City. We’d caught an earlier flight out of Denver to be sure we wouldn’t get fucked out of our flight to Paris. Yes, it’s a little out of the way when traveling from Denver to Paris, but by this time, we were immune to such things. Our home in France was in our sights for the first time in 3 weeks, we would soon be reunited with our fuzzy feline & we would be a whole family unit once again.
Olivier laughed in the seat next to me. “You do realize that the plane we’re about to board is the only mode of transportation that is on time & that we were actually supposed to be on?”
“Yeah,” I said. “But we shouldn’t talk to much about it. Something could still go wrong.”
Luckily, nothing did. Other than the fact that we had shitty movies… but, isn’t that a typical & expected problem on an international flight?
We arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport on time. We found a taxi right away to take us back home. It was snowing, we were cold, exhausted & longing for home… & a real espresso.
Dragging our luggage through the door, we were greeted by the yowling & mewling that we’d been missing for the past few weeks.
Our bags laying on the floor around us in a scattered mess, I scooped up our cat & squeezed her as hard as I could without smooshing her completely.
“I get it,” I said.
“What do you mean?” Olivier’s voice was muffled in our tiny group hug.
“Yeah,” he said. “It’s kind of like that. Know what else?”
“No,” I said. “What?”
“You’re a total geek.”
He was right. It was geeky, but it was true. Indeed, when I entered our home that afternoon, I felt as though I had just been to Mt. fucking Doom & back. We had fun, we had some complete fucking misery… people had disappointed me beyond belief, while others had pleasantly surprised me beyond my expectations.
It’s all quite blurry now, but what I remember of it all is full of various landscapes, faces & suitcases. There was eating, drinking, merriment &… mucous.
Fucking holiday travel. It’s always a lot of planning & stress, but we had a plan – a simple plan. We believed that there was no way that it could fail. We were mistaken – the entire plan failed, everything went wrong.
So, we’ll probably be staying home here in France for a while. That is, until we can come up with some new & exciting way to torture ourselves… of course, this adventure will be hard to top.