In this episode of Lesbihonest, La Shaguita finds love in the least likely of places: a greyhound bus station. This marks the first in a series of Lesbihonest On-The-Road specials. Shout out to Chris Devlin at WinWin for his music, “Future Again” featuring Angela Sarakan (a.k.a. La Shaguita). Check it out, yo! Oh, and here’s the print version of the audio.
Hello, hello everyone. Greetings from far, far away. I’m happy to announce that this episode marks the beginnings of our travels together. My closet has hit the road and I’ll be reporting back from Spain and the Isle of Lesbos and a few other mystical magical places. But anyway. If any of you have looked at your calendars you may have realized that Valentine’s Day was like, so ten days ago. Pssht, whatever. If you keep the play button on after this episode, and wait like a minute or so in anxious anticipation, you can listen to the totally self-involved bonus episode called Lesbi Not Valentine’s, which I made last year but for secret reasons never released. And incase you’re wondering, I have moved on since then. Well … maybe not totally, but whatever.
Anyway, as a single lady with an incredibly inactive dating and sex life, I didn’t really think I had much to say about the month of February this year, but I actually just spent 40 hours (yes, 4 -0, 40 hours) on a Greyhound from San Francisco to Austin and that gave me a lot of time to, you know, like, think about things and romanticize mundane occurrences and whatever.
If I weren’t such a mess I would have interviewed my fellow Greyhound passengers and put it all together into some sort of fascinating episode for you, but … sorry dudes/people, you’re just gonna have to listen to me this time.
Now, why do I want to commemorate a belated Día de San Valentín by talking about the Greyhound bus line and its associated experiences? The answer is simple. I’ve realized this fine month of February that it’s totally awesome to be a Single Woman with the guts to leave wimpiness and boredom behind and to seek connection with random but beautiful strangers. According to my friend’s facebook wall, a woman by the name of Carol M. Barrett once said: “Your relationship with YOU sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” Amen, Ms. Barrett! And let me add that if you don’t have the strength to love and respect your own self and those outside your immediate intimate circle, then maybe you shouldn’t be celebrating Belated Valentine’s Day anyway. Unconditional love should not remain with lover and beloved alone! No! You gotta share that shit.
So, back to my Greyhound Bus Line experience. The moment of truth on my 40 hour journey was when this girl with an unidentifiable object imprinted on her neck got on the bus in Dallas and announced that was like, “ugh, I was stabbed again the other day! That’s the third time I’ve gotten stabbed.” And by the way she was talking to this other woman who clearly had some mental health issues and whose whole bottom half of her face was totally smeared with bright red lipstick.
I feel like a privileged FuFu face when I talk about Greyhound because it’s not entirely necessary for me to ride it. And I know a Greyhound bus is not necessarily the most romantic place to celebrate February and we all probably wanted to be somewhere else but … whatever. You know? We were where we were.
Anyway. The girl who was complaining about her stab wound reminded me of another trip I took a few years ago, before I even knew what a broken heart felt like and before I gave a shit at all about belated V-Day and romance in general. And by the way, I swear all of this has something to do with love so just hold on.
So on that trip I got stuck at the Albuquerque Greyhound station. There was a forest fire nearby so the air was all smoky, and my nose was bleeding a little. I was lookin’ real forward to getting on the bus.
People started getting in line and a girl who was maybe in her early twenties came into the station crying inconsolably/just crying like crazy. She kept being like “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go,” but an older woman who I learned later was her mom was really intent about her going. I sort of ignored the crying girl like everyone else when her mom left, and I don’t really know why – I mean, I really wanted to ask if she was ok but I just didn’t at first.
Then suddenly it was three hours later and the crying girl still wasn’t happy. But neither were the rest of us because a bus had come to pick us up but it was full. I don’t know if you have ever ridden Greyhound but it doesn’t seem to have a “sold-out” mechanism as part of the ticket process. I’m pretty sure that might have something to do with the fact that it primarily serves economically disadvantaged people and we all know that there’s no point in catering to the needs of people who have no choice but to spend the little bit of money they have on a shitty ass company. Right?
So anyway, one bus came, but it was full and left. Another came, same story. 3 hours passed, 4, 5, and then came the one that was gonna be our Savior Bus but nope. FULL. Thus it was that with growing hunger pains, continued nosebleeds from the nearby fire, and little to keep us entertained but each other, the evitable became inevitable: strangers in line began to …. Dun dun dun … SPEAK to each other.
“Hey, umm … are you all right?” I asked the crying girl. She wasn’t. She was coming down from a meth trip and her mom had bought her a bus ticket to Arkansas for rehab. “I’m getting real hungry,” said the voice of a middle aged white dude with disheveled hair and an untied left shoe. A baby’s daddy’s brother mentioned he was the proud new uncle of a 3 1/2 month premature baby who weighed 1.5 lbs when she was born but had finally made it to a healthy size. Someone was mad at the growing Burmese population in Amarillo, Texas, because she said they use store bathrooms without asking. A woman with no shoes on was joking about lighting bombs and then she suddenly screamed that she’d kill a mother fucker if he ever threatened to kick her baby again. Now, I was a witness, and the person she was screaming at actually hadn’t said that, but he did respond by calling her a bitch. Anyway, the point is – people were talking.
Four of us grew a particular liking to each other. Before I knew it the crying girl, the untied left shoe guy, a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac, and I were fantasizing about renting a car together and driving to Texas instead of waiting for another full bus to reject us. We didn’t end up renting a car, and that was probably for the best. But the untied left shoe guy, let’s call him Jim, did know where we could get some decent breakfast. And it might seem rude to eat at a homeless shelter if you’re not homeless, but Jim assured us that there was plenty to go around.
During our walk through downtown Albuquerque to the shelter, Jim told us he used to be on the streets but he was heading to Texas to take a truck driver training program and turn his life around. The self-proclaimed nymphomaniac –let’s call him Divine- pet my arm hair repeatedly and told me it felt like velvet. We stopped and talked to a street kid Jim knew. Divine encouraged him to pet my arm hair, but he thought a hug would be more respectable. The crying girl, let’s call her Julie, was pretty quiet but her tears had calmed down and she smiled and laughed from time to time.
At the shelter we each ate a sizzling bowl of oatmeal with raisins while Divine explained the origins of his sex addiction. He was thirteen years old when his young mom’s best friend lured him into the bedroom with her for the first time. She made a habit of it for the rest of Divine’s teenage years, and Divine didn’t fight it. Divine was in his thirties now, and he had come to Albuquerque solely for the Latina women even though his pregnant girlfriend was waiting for him back in the Carolinas.
Julie told us about her life in a reservation outside of Albuquerque. She wasn’t the only one of her friends who had gotten into drugs at a young age. Most of the adults in her life –parents, uncles, parents of friends- suffered from serious medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. She kept referring to a “terrible thing” that had happened to her and that led her to try drugs in the first place. She didn’t want to discuss the details, and nobody pried.
Breakfast came and went. A nice guy who worked at the shelter offered me a used pair of tennis shoes but I told him to save them for someone who really needed them.
After breakfast we made our way back to the station, and a bus with empty seats on it did show up about 15 hours past schedule. Julie and I sat together and talked all the way to Dallas. We had all started our trips alone, but an odd twist of fate had gifted us with each other’s company for a fleeting but beautiful moment in time.
It’s been over three years since then. That means three Valentines Days have come and gone like falling leaves. But you know what? Every day is Love Day. Love is Julie’s willpower to finish rehab and go clean. It’s Jim’s determination to build a new life in Texas. It’s Divine’s honesty and affinity for velvet arm hair.
Love is having the guts to travel alone. And with friends. Or a lover.
Love is Greyhound in February.