Thursday, July 7th, 6:30 PM

So this is how my 500-mile trek begins? Standing in the bus terminal, downtown, looking into the sky as the sun is dragged beneath the bruised eve. I've already been awake since 5:00 in the morning to pack and will be awake at least 30 hours by the time I reach Toronto. I send a text message to a special person, fancying myself a momentary Bogart, and out of the corner of my eye a haggard man approaches.

"Excuse me, sir? Do you have some spare change? I could use it for some food. I mean, I won't spend it on booze or anythi--"
I've been to enough cities to hear these speeches - it's easy to get played with the sob stories. But for someone to be so direct; to flat out ask for money and promise me they'll use it for food? I look down and my eyes meet his.
"No no no."
I hand him a $10.
"You're getting an expensive beer and a cheap trick."
He stares for a moment, then impulsively grabs the bill.
"Beautiful, man."

I hop on the bus shortly after. The driver announces the bathroom is broken and immediately begins driving.

Yes. Beautiful.

Thursday, July 7th, 9:45 PM

Western Massachusetts is even less beautiful. A smoke-stained building is all that stands in the pool of yellow light against the dusk and I dejectedly kick cigarrette butts while I wait for the next bus. It takes so long I've formed a neat pile of trash in the corner while using the phone. Dear God, I'm nesting. A family sits inside and stares at me through the thick glass of the seating area.

Do people actually live here? Westfield or Fucktown or wherever this is? The roads seem so narrow and the lights so dim I imagine mere props beyond the street; a shanty town in such poor shape the shanties themselves moved to better neighborhoods.

This terminal bathroom has also been rendered inoperative. Perhaps there is some Restroom Baron riding the rails and ruining what was once a flushable region of the country. I make a mental note to do something about it if I find him. But boss battles aside, my ride is here.

Friday, July 8th, 12:15 AM

I'm somewhere in New York State which is apparently Dance Party USA. Help. ...Ok, I'll explain. This bus must be SUNY-bound because half of it is currently being powered by drugs and teen angst. Across the aisle from me, a guy sits while he talks with his girlfriend and rubs her legs with his hand. He send texts messages with the other, and in his lap sits his iPod for all to hear. Thus begins the competition of who can make their blue-LED player chirp louder. I win by default beacuse I am playing Fucking Pantera. You, my new friend, do not out-crunk Fucking Pantera.

Sleep and a bathroom is too much to ask for. I silently blame the Restroom Baron for his evil machinations.

Friday, July 8th, 3:30 AM

Albany is an interesting sight when completely devoid of life. Flickering streetlights and buildings rise into the black. I defend the last open space on the bus and almost make it out unscathed.

Friday, July 8th, 3:40 AM

"Hi, how are ya?"
"Good. Where you headed?"
Well, if this didn't just open the fucking floodgates. This man with the diminutive, droning voice and the 150-lb suitcase has now wedged me against the emergency exit, and the most infuriating part is that while I now hate him the most I can't physically get away from him.

Friday, July 8th, 4:00 AM

Have you ever discussed the socioeconomic policy of Haiti with a complete stranger at 4:00 in the morning? Because I have!

No, really; that's not the joke. Captain Talkative just got back from there on a consulting bid for a power plant.
"...y'know, they've got maybe 1.8 bil in bullion, mmkay?..."
I really begin to wonder what precise trajectory landed me in this place, at this time, not only having this conversation but apparently also giving him enough to continue on.
Oh, right. They call it Hell.
", you imagine you'd want to do a 10-1 split, right?"
Of course, because a complete stranger you've been speaking to for a half-hour must be able to discuss complex accounting principles!

I begin looking for ways to throw myself from the emergency window.

Friday, July 8th, 4:30 AM
It has now been an hour of unprompted speech.
"...well, for any startup venture you want to always make $4 on every $1 you spend, mmkay?..."

I begin looking for ways to throw him from the emergency window.

Friday, July 8th, 7:00 AM

Having kicked Captain Talkative off into another seat as soon as it opened up I almost get a wink of sleep as the sun rises. And right as my eyes close? We finally pass through Buffalo and arrive in Niagara for a customs check. Despite the Falls being 20 feet away from me the driver refuses to let me leave the line to take pictures, and the world is a broken toilet.

Has my dreaded journey finally ended? Can I stumble forth, exhausted but triumphant?

"And where are you headed today?"
"Um, Ryerson University. Toronto."
"Oh, really? Studying there?"
"Well, no, you see... It's more like a film premiere."
"Ohhh. A film premiere in a university, huh? What film?"
"Well, um... *clears throat* It's an Internet film. *squinty-eyed whisper* It's a comedy."
"An internet comedy in Toronto. I see. Hold on for a moment, please."
*begins furious lookup of my life history*


my god and savior