Monday, January 15, 2007

Memories of Montana

This morning I remembered that eight years ago today was my first full day in Montana. I moved there after graduate school to find myself. I found myself seriously underemployed as an at-home tutor for kids suspended from school or recovering from illness and as the night auditor for a haunted Ramada. One month I actually made $700. Beautiful country, northwest Montana. I miss that immensely. I miss the intense blueness of the Rockies, and the milky green of the rivers. I miss the trees. I miss some of the people. I do not, however, miss all the typing tests. I had a master’s degree, not to mention relevant work experience and excellent computer skills, and no one wanted me because I only type seventy-five words per minute.

A few months later, fed up with my prospects, I rode “back east” on a Greyhound bus, fending off an annoying little man from Kentucky (he pronounced it “Kin-tuck”) who tried to feel me up every time I dozed off. Between that and his rack of animal horns falling off the baggage rack and stabbing me in the head every few seconds, I felt I had a case of justifiable homicide. Some other kid was chasing Black Velvet with orange juice most of the drive through every godforsaken town in North Dakota. The driver left him, covered in his own vomit, in Fargo, North Dakota. The other passengers cheered as we left the station and crossed over into Minnesota.

The next day, another bus driver nearly left all of us at the bus depot in Toledo, Ohio, because she didn’t bother to tell us about the time change. In Buffalo, a woman got on the bus at 6:00 AM and started to chit-chat with me. Exhausted, fed-up, and cranky as Satan with PMS, I said, “I’m sorry, but I really don’t care about you or whatever babble you are going on about. Shut up, please.”

Her expression was priceless. I rode the rest of the way in silence. Never in my whole life have I been so happy to see Boston.

23 comments:

Robyn said...

Yikes. I rode a Greyhound from Huntsville, AL to Birmingham, AL once with my mother when I was 12. All I remember is the smelly toilet.

You were quite brave to go all the way out to Montana by yourself. I am impressed!

Old Knudsen said...

Satan with PMS

not only is lucifer promoted to hell then they changed his name and now you've made him a woman, well I believe the devil could be a woman far more than I can God being a woman.
So is that far then?

Sassy Sundry said...

Well, I don't know if it was so much brave as it was running away from my life here. I thought that the change of setting would change everything. As for the bus ride, it was horrible. Hideous. I had one bus trip from New Hampshire to Grand Rapids, Michigan, however, that was a blast. There were a bunch of kids going to a Rainbow Gathering. We had a fine party.

Knudsen, it was an analogy; one I wrote with you in mind. The bus trip took three full days. It was far, and it was hell.

dive said...

"Kathy, I’m lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
They’ve all gone to look for America … etc.

What is it with Greyhound buses?
I LOVE that song and it's made me want to ride on a Greyhound since I was around ten, yet everyone who's every written about them say they're like a concentrated misery enema.

And what is it with people having to "find" themselves?
Hey, look down.
That's you, there.
Take those hands and grab hold of bits of that body if you're not sure.

Sassy, as you get older, you'll realise that we spend our whole lives trying to figure out what the hell our lives are about. Eventually, we figure out they're not about anything. Only then can we boogie down and have some fun.

Great story, by the way.

Gaijin Girl said...

you can only type seventy-five words a minute?! oh. i can only type about forty-five. one hundred if you discount accuracy.

i loved this story as i love road trips. just being in a bus, train or plane is exciting. centuries ago, i had a hell trip from melbourne to the gold coast for schoolies week, also on a greyhound bus. took 26 hours. good times.

can you sort a wee trip-ette for yourself and visit again.

james said...

Well, count this guy as glad you're here and not out there.

Sassy Sundry said...

Dive, I love that song too. It often makes me cry. Riding on a Greyhound can be an amazing experience. I just think it depends on the route. When the first twenty-four hours gets you from northwestern Montana to somewhere in North Dakota, the experience is not great. The train ride out there, however, might be a story for another day.

As for finding myself, I didn't, and that was because I was runing away. I ran away from my education. I ran away from my upbringing. I ran away from me. So of course it didn't work. I learned that we have to face life through that experience.

Gaijing Girl, I KNOW. I mean, what the hell? Seventy-five words a minute is not bad at all. Not to mention the whole education and expeirence thing. Montana was way behind the times and was still thinking in terms of a computer. I made decent money as a tutor, but the hours were sporadic. I had steady work at the haunted hotel, but it paid $5.15 per hour.

As for good experiences on buses, I think they might be reserved for the young. I love other forms of travel now. I like the feeling of disconnect.

Sassy Sundry said...

And, I should wake up and drink the coffee before typing.

"experience"

"thinking in terms of the typewritter, not the computer."

There might be others, but I haven't found them yet.

James, I'm glad I'm here, too.

dive said...

"Runing away" is a good one.
And "Gaijing" doesn't really mean anything in Japanese.
And I'm just a tosser for pointing these out.

Sassy Sundry said...

Thanks, Dive. I have my coffee now.

GaijiN Girl, I do apologize for my typing's running away with me.

Before Girl said...

I remember about half my high school ran away at some point after graduating, and nearly everyone came back within a year because they were homesick, lonely or discovered what they wanted wasn't what they really wanted.

Did you know that companies out west are less likely to hire people from the east coast because we have a tendency to leave after a year because we miss what we know? Interesting thought.

What song are you guys talking about with the Greyhound? The poetry is nice.

I think the only thing worse would be a Fung Wah bus. For those of you overseas, google it with terms like "on fire" and "wheels falling off" and "drivers not knowing English."

Sassy Sundry said...

Oh, I've ridden the Fung Wah. Never again.

I think the reason why everyone comes back to what they know is that the can't find a real job out west. Perhaps there's a symbiotic relationship there.

The song is by Simon and Garfunkel.

Before Girl said...

I have a cousin-by-marriage who always takes the Fung Wah bus from Washington to Boston to visit family. She said once she was on the bus and there was a person with two bamboo cages with a chicken in each of them on the bus and the chickens just went up in the luggage rack overhead.

Sassy Sundry said...

I've never seen chickens. But I have had to sit near the bathroom.

For a long time, I just used to think of it as cheap transportation. After all those "incidents," I will pay a bit more money.

Dear Prudence said...

I once took a bus trip from Danbury CT back to NH-(about 4 hrs), fell asleep and had my purse stolen. Could have been the big "fatty" I smoked before getting on the bus that lulled me to sleep but hey.. that was then. My best friend had to take one from NY to NH and had a BIG black guy sitting next to her who pulled his “pud” several times during the ride. She pretended to be asleep. Buses are not such a good idea, I think.

james said...

Dude . . . the Fung Wah! Totally took that one to NYC last year. the place smelled like a locker room, the guy in front of me was passed out with a bottle of Jim Beam rolling at his feet, and there was absolutely no ventilation. My favorite was the old closet in the back converted into and outhouse.

Yeah, i think we'll pay the extra $5 next time and just take the Greyhound.

Sassy Sundry said...

Ex-Boyfriend and I took the Fung Wah to New York a couple of times. I used to sing "Kiss me, on the Wah," to the tune of "Kiss me on the Bus," by the Replacements.

Prudence, those are yucky stories, and unfortunately they don't surprise me.

Dear Prudence said...

Which part? The "Fatty" or the bus ride!!! Yuck, Yuck!

Sassy Sundry said...

Do I really need to answer that?

dive said...

"America", by Simon and Garfunkel, BG; Paul Simon's second best song. And yes, it's beautiful.
That song so perfectly encapsulates what happened to young America at the end of the sixties; after the wheels came off the summer of love.
And indeed what young Sassy was looking for.

I love the sound of Fung Wah buses. We have our own version over here; "Go Anywhere For A Pound".
Fine if you want to do London to Edinburgh … ten hours balancing on one foot because that's all the room you get.

Old Knudsen said...

I am yer muse gurl.

I'm the fella people on buses wake up to find touching them, I just like to be friendly.

barbara walker no doubt has a theory about satan being female.

Sassy Sundry said...

Here are a few things that have happened to the Fung Wah bus in the last three months:

Fire
Flipping over on the highway
Wheels coming off at high speeds

So not worth the savings anymore.

It is a great song, isn't it? Too bad it doesn't really happen that way.

Knudsen, it would be a mythological Satan, wouldn't it?

RICH said...

"There's a Greyhound outside in the lane it's waiting for us"

Another song with "greyhound"

Great story Sass