In December I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for Over the Rhine's 2o year anniversary Christmas concert (and to see my big sister and her husband).
I took my first Greyhound ride and did some journaling along the way. I meant to post these journal entries earlier.
In a serendipitous nod to travel, Jolie Holland’s freewheeling “Goodbye, California” becomes my departure song from Cleveland to Cincinnati. A genial hippie kid with a hole in his right sock sits cattycorner to me, less chatty now that we’ve boarded the Greyhound. He has precious time to sleep on his way to LA. Earlier at the ticket window he chatted me up about my Bob Dylan bag. “He’s just the ultimate,” he repeated, then asked me if I was going to L.A. too, as if this was the thing to do. I get the feeling that we would have had the exact conversation, even without any prompting from my handbag. I’m glad he’s here. I’ve long romanticized my first trip on a Greyhound, my eyes filled with Kerouac’s “aww” inspiring fireworks and Simon & Garfunkel’s unwitting gabardine spy. We need guys on buses who look like Devendra Banhart, whose voices are warm and groggy and free, breath sweet and earthy. I want to kiss him in the bathroom at the back of the bus.
Completely angry about misplacing my 2nd pair of Sony studio monitor headphones (they’re huge—how does that happen?). The tiny, spongy plastic ones I grabbed in haste and shoved into my bag only yield sound through the right earpiece—the window side. It’s as though the road is delivering my music to me, and this morning it’s taken on a melancholy tone: Nico (Fairest of the Seasons), The Minus Five (Cemetery Row) and Weezer (Butterfly—what a weepy track!) Ha. As I wrote that, “Poison Oak” by Bright Eyes came on. I hope my weekend isn’t reflectively sad. I just finished Amanda Petrusich’s It Still Moves. I can’t think of a better book I could have finished as the bus noisily hissed and pulled out of the parking lot of Cleveland’s gorgeous time-frozen art deco Greyhound station. Petrusich’s obsessions, hopes, and teetering between new American hipster cynicism and earnest nostalgia and respect for the past are all shared by me.
Being a highway traveler after reading about a highway traveler feels thrillingly like a marriage of art and life (which I suppose all art or all life is, but this feels much more fated.)
The second leg of my bus ride was warm and crowded. I had to share my seat with an Amish woman who must have been wearing a cloak and a cape, and a large bonnet she removed and set on her lap. I was forced to squeeze myself hard against the metal wall of the bus, which, except for the pressure was cool and soothing in the face of a packed vehicle full of smells and hot breath. The woman next to me smelled of wet ashes and smoked meat. It was overwhelming when she first sat down and swept her cape toward the aisle.
The ambient humming of the highway eventually lulled me to sleep, which was interrupted by three phone calls.
At the station a German kid complete with yodeler cap and green knee socks, is smoking a stately and fashionable pipe. Here he comes.
I almost prefer the aged and beaten feel of the Cleveland station to this one. IT feels dated and shitty here, because it was never beautiful. A flat, square, squat building, its brown gradient tiles look like the ones you find on McDonalds floors. Every doorway is numbered with a tacky silver sign. This place was built for nothing more than function. I wish I had my…
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