Squeaky called and said he wanted to come and visit.
This was in response to an open invitation to him from the man who promised to pay for bus tickets if he or Max should want to visit.
I was excited to say the least and immediately set about arranging
a will call ticket for him on line.
Now when I was dating the man,
I made that bus trip several times.
One would assume that since I had that experience,
that I should be able to find my way there.
But you should know me by now...
and if not, at least I know my knack for getting lost.
I would make a dry run... just to be sure.
The man gave me clear directions.
I am much more familiar with the streets now but this was
a journey into the Emerald City, which I do not know as well.
Still, after listening to the man's directions
I was sure that I could find my way
and confident that places would jog my memory
of the area.
For instance, I recalled very clearly a soup kitchen on the corner
and a bar down the street from the station.
(The soup kitchen as it turns out is next to the station in P'land.
So much for my ability to recall.)
Off I set in the clown car... which I had freshly washed for the occasion.
I made the first two turns easily.
The third one threw me a loop... and I went left instead of right.
But I caught my error quickly and made adjustments.
Too bad they were the wrong ones.
I ended up under the bridge instead of on it.
I have made this same error before. Sigh.
Okay... made a loop and found my way on top of the bridge actually going in the correct direction... I was back on track!
I made my next two turns perfectly.
Ha ha! I had it now.
I am directionally challenged.
By this I mean that my head has no sense at all of
where north, south, east or west are at any given time.
(Later the man would tell me...
numbered streets go east and west
and the named streets run north and south.
That would have helped.)
It also would have helped if I had looked to see the name of the street
where the bus station hunkers down.
But I did not.
At this point, I was actually on the street...
so when I took one left turn too many...
I left it.
No matter... in the spirit of happy reunion...
I decided that I was indeed in a familiar looking area...
so I was close.
All I had to do was circle around and go up and down the streets
in a small radius.
It is unfortunate that I had decided that the right street was
the wrong one... and circled everywhere but on that street.
It was hot and humid.
Frustration set in quickly and soon I found myself
in a snit.
Off I drove home, because I can always find my way home...
by retracing my recent travels.
I entered the house feeling rankled that once again I had gotten lost.
But the man was smart enough to see my frustration.
He didn't stop me from printing a Google Map...
which told me that I needed Pearl Street, if nothing else.
He looked at the driving directions and said it would take me longer to go that way, but whatever.
He needed to go to the store.
I followed him to the truck in a sullen and sour mood...
which he wisely acted as if he did not notice.
Does nothing rattle this man's cage?
I haven't found it yet, if the annoyance exists that can.
I began to smile when he turned onto the freeway
on our return trip home.
I knew he was going to drive me to the station.
Getting cigars had been a ruse.
And I would have refused if he had offered.
It truly does bother me when I get lost.
It becomes a point of honor to find my way.
But this time, his just doing it without warning pleased me.
My ego could stay in tact.
Yes, I am aware that this reasoning is weird.
So it was that I saw my error with the extra left turn
and saw how simple and easy his instructions truly were.
How close I had been to it if I had not made that one crucial mistake.
Oh well. Now I knew the way.
My drive to collect my youngest son would be easy and successful
the following evening.
Friday afternoon Squeaky and Bear went to buy books for college...
There was a four hour wait just to get into the book store,
and it was set to close in an hour.
A quick decision was made to buy online instead.
Bear dropped him at the bus station as she left town...
two hours early.
Not a big deal since he was supposed to be there an hour early anyway.
He texted me to tell me he was there.
An hour later I get another text...
"Been here an hour. Already offered drugs.
Am watching a homeless guy's bag."
And so it went for nearly five hours of bus delays,
unscheduled stops for last minute riders,
and actual trip time.
Meanwhile I was at home, tracking him through texts.
Time passed slowly, but finally after all the delays
I got his text that he thought that he was near.
Off I set in the clown car... and drove straight there.
That's when the waiting began.
The first problem was that the bus station was closed.
This meant that there I was in a fairly seedy part of a strange town
But luck was with me and I found a parking space right in front of the bus station doors.
Outside it a variety of shady characters loitered...
and one fresh faced nervous college kid.
But not my college kid.
A loud burst of laughter from the punk bar down the street
startled both of us.
He moved closer to my car,
where I sat, doors locked.
Better to be closer to the grandma looking lady with the cell phone.
I smiled at him and rolled my window down... about half way.
We began a conversation about the delay.
He informed me that they told him before tossing him out of the station
when it closed that he had another hour to wait.
I said my son was on that bus and gave him the news that they were almost here.
That was how it went for a bit...
me getting texts from Squeaky about what he saw
in hopes that I would know where the bus was.
Up walks Stabby Joe...
many of his cousins were lingering about
and I had to force myself not to roll my window back up.
Oily and obviously living out of his grimy back pack.
He asked me about the bus delay.
He confessed that he
"Have to get out of this town quick".
Okay... I don't want to know this story.
I told him what I knew and suggested that he wait
in the alley the bus pulls into in an alcove that is there
where he can't be seen from the street.
He nodded and shuffled off.
The fresh faced kid came over to stand by my window.
Stabby Joe had made him nervous too.
I almost offered to let him sit in my car...
but you know not all of Stabby Joe's cousins look smarmy.
I get a text telling me the exit number Squeaky just passed.
His exit was the very next one...
in ten minutes they would arrive.
I passed that on to fresh face, who looked relieved.
I thought again briefly of offering to let him sit in the car
and then thought how creepy that might seem.
Some old pervy grandma who trolls the bus station late at night for victims...
Stabby Joe's grandma perhaps.
We continued our conversation through my half closed window
until the bus arrived and we said our good-byes.
I texted Squeaky that I was parked directly in front of the bus station doors.
I saw him walk out of the alley with his back pack on his back.
I waved and he walked the opposite direction.
Proof that being directionally challenged is genetic.
I can see him texting.
"Where are you?"
I hopped out of the car and flagged him down,
and hopped back in to lock my door again.
He got in with his back pack still on and locked his door...
sitting like a hunchback, almost doubled over.
"Oh my god! The ride itself wasn't so bad once we got going but everyone on that bus was related to Stabby Joe. WTF?"
That was my son.
On the ride home I only made one mistake.
It didn't really matter.
Eventually I saw a sign that pointed to my freeway.
Once I was on it, I knew how to get home.
Pizza and fresh baked cookies were waiting.
My boy was here safe and the conversation was excellent.
Stabby Joe and his cousins left our minds.