Posts Tagged: Experiences

The Ride of [My] Life

The year was 1997
I was due to visit “home”
So I hopped on a Greyhound bus

And, set off from Louisiana to New York
On a thirty-two hour trek
A journey where I would meet many folks

I wore ripped jeans
Listened to loud music
Content in my own bubble

All the way up to Birmingham
No one had taken the seat beside me
Feet up; I was relaxed

After a smoke, waiting for the rest to board
I admired the lone empty seat on the bus
It was the one next to me

The door opened and in staggered a greasy bum
I closed my eyes and wished him gone

Pointing at me, the driver said, “There…next to the girl in red”
I huffed as I moved my bag
Trying my best to avoid making eye contact

His stench was repulsive
I held my fingers to my nose
To smell familiarity and prevent vomiting

Finally, inĀ deep darkness, the bus pulled into the next stop
I sat in the very back
Next to a black man with broad shoulders

He shared his story with me
Army experiences, sadness, and despair
He was in the first Gulf War

Then he showed me the marks
The ones he calledĀ  “Gulf War Syndrome”
Everyone listened with intent

We continued to talk the whole trip
He offered me his cold, fried chicken
And, to this day I regret not taking a piece

In the early hours
I finally caught some sleep
Soon we were in Ohio

Almost to New York
I grew tired of the bus
Where I mostly missed the use of a real toilet

During the last stretch I spent time
Having my nails painted by a little girl
She couldn’t have been more than five

Her mother blessed me:
“One day you’ll make a great mom!”
Maybe it was a prophecy

For when I would return home from this trip
In a hand-me-down car with my best friend and a boy named Ben
Michael and I conceived our first child in the blue room of our house

That trip somehow defined me
I grew so much from the moment I stepped on that Greyhound bus
It started me off on the ride of my life

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