Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I once stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona

While setting up for what seems to be her 563rd garage sale in the last five years, my mother came across my expandable file that I used to keep my records in back in the mid 90's. Some things were interesting (paystubs from when I was a bank teller/New Accounts Rep at Bank of America pulling down a hefty $7.45 per hour, a card from my mom, autographs from several Pittsburgh Pirates who all pretty much sucked) and there were some things that I couldn't throw away fast enough because they brought up bad memories.

In one of the pockets was a small folded up sheet of paper. On it was a list of cities starting with Monroeville, PA (Wednesday 10:00 AM) all the way across the country until Los Angeles, CA (Friday 10:00 PM). It was the list of cities I rode through as I took a Greyhound Bus across country over the longest 36 hours of my life.

I had been living with my grandmother for 8 months in the quiet little town of Bovard, PA after my mother and I decided we needed some space apart from one another. 3,000 miles was just about far enough to make us both comfortable at the time. During those eight months, I was able to piss off both sides of my family, get a 104 temperature from shoveling the walk after the biggest blizzard in 15 years wearing shorts and flip flops, work at a Burger King and get one of my female bosses fired for doing what was so eloquently documented in the song "The Humpty Dance" by Digital Underground, bear witness to history as I saw O.J. drive his white Bronco down the 405 while sitting in a bar where the DJ started a chant of "Go O.J. Go O.J.". start drinking again after being sober for almost two years and basically have a breakdown/realization that if every person you know in the world is angry with you, maybe it's because of you, not all of them.

At this point, I reconciled with my mother and she said I could come home if I went back to college and got a job. I readily agreed and my father said he would pay my way back to L.A. A plane ticket one way was $103.00 and it would have taken 5 and a half hours to get home. However, a 36 hour ride through the bowels of hell with Satan's minions was only $79.00. So, for the hefty savings of $24.00, he bought me a bus ticket. (BTW, I had to have my bags shipped to me, if I rode on the plane, I could have brought them with me as bags flew free then. My dad paid $41.00 to ship the bags...not a financial wizard was he).

The following was the list of cities I rolled through and stopped at over those 36 hours:

Monroeville, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Wheeling, WV
Cambridge, OH
Zanesville, OH
Columbus, OH
Springfield, OH
Dayton, OH
Richmond, IN
Indianapolis, IN
St. Louis, MO
Springfield, MO
Tulsa, OK
Oklahoma City, OK
Amarillo, TX
Albuquerque, NM
Gallup, NM
Houck, AZ
Holbrook, AZ
Winslow, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Glendale, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Blythe, CA
Claremont, CA
Los Angeles, CA

I only remember a few things from the trip. I sat in the back of the bus basically the whole way across the country and I think I slept about 23 minutes. Except for a 4 hour layover in St. Louis, the longest the stops were was about 15 minutes. I got out in Winslow, AZ....walked to the nearest corner....stood there for a second and felt like I had made my obligation to the Eagles paid in full. I ate candy bars because none of the terminals had a restaurant until I hit Amarillo.

From Amarillo to L.A., there was this little kid, about 4 years old, whose name was also Kevin. He wore a Bart Simpson t-shirt and raised hell the whole way. As he ran back and forth on the bus and crawled around, he got dirtier and dirtier and his shirt went from white to black. I myself smelled like an outhouse after Woodstock. My smell was getting to me, but no one else seemed to notice. By the time I hit L.A., I had a full beard, my hair was matted down and sweaty and I hadn't changed clothes in two days. Thankfully, there was no paparazzi at the bus terminal.

Seeing my mother and brother, I was so happy to have made it home. Looking back, I feel like that trip was the final threshhold between the person I was and the person that I soon became. I was changed after that, still had some problems, but at least I realized I needed help and it was time to start my life in earnest. I look at the other Kevin as how I had been acting and I left him behind on that bus. We walked out and Part Two of my life had just begun.

A final note. My mother was driving us home and I was sitting in the passengers seat as we made our way thorough a particularily seedy part of L.A. We stopped at a light and there were a group of 6-8 men on the other corner. They got up and started walking towards the car. My mom was oblivious to my telling her to go and finally, I reached my leg over and hit the gas pedal myself. We shot off into the night and a crisis was averted. :)

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