Friday morning I was up at the crack of early, and breathing myself through "I can do this"....
I packed up what was left of my stuff (that I hadn't packed up the night before) and handed in my key and walked down and across the street to the bus stop. I'd talked to the bus people the night before (they called to confirm actually) and had found out where exactly the stop was and that I needed exact change for the fare. (I seem to remember it was somewhere around thirty or forty dollars.) There was a young fellow there and we got to talking a bit before his bus came. (These busses are like between city busses, small ones, you have to pre-book your seat I think and they run once or twice a day two or three times a week, so they're not city transit, but inter-city transit I suppose. Privately owned, I would guess.) He, in his words, had gotten in trouble with his parole officer and so was going to go live with his Grandma in [other town]. I asked him if he was ok with that, or happy with that, I don't remember the exact words but I wanted him to know that I cared, and wasn't judging. He said yes, that it was good, and I wished him well as he got on the bus with his backpack and pillow. There's a whole other world out there...
There was an older man and his granddaughter waiting for my bus, and a large, loud gentleman that I didn't want to engage with eye contact or conversation. We all got on the bus, paid our cash fares, put our luggage on the luggage rack and chose our seats. I was... relieved.
I knew I had a very long day ahead of me, I wasn't going to be home for more than sixteen hours, but I was heading home. This portion of this.... situation was going to be over and I was going to be home. Soon enough. Not in a few days, not at some future point, but tonight. Or, very early tomorrow morning, I suppose, but now. I was going home now.
The bus ride was difficult. The scenery was beautiful and I wanted to sit and watch it, but being in a vehicle, and one that was being assertively driven was frightening me, so I put on Pulse (Pink Floyd live) and closed my eyes and just glanced out occasionally.
I had a few words with the little girl who had taken the seats in front of me, and her granddad, like everyone else I mentioned my situation to had heard about "that van that caught on fire" and everyone repeated how lucky I was to be alive and safe. Yes. Yes I was.
God was mentioned a fair amount, as the reason for my safety and I always just smiled at that. God. Angels. Science. Fairies. Dust devils. Spirit. Magic. Hope. Prayer. Whatever. I don't care what the name or brand or look of what kept me safe, I'm just glad it did.
There was a bathroom stop mid way through the trip and we were warned the bus was leaving in EXACTLY ten minutes with us on it or not and that we weren't really supposed to use the washroom but hey.... and then we were nearly there.
The little girl asked me if I'd like to come to her birthday party. I told her if I could make it back to town I would love to, but that I lived quite far away so I wasn't sure that I'd be able to. "Canada" I said. "Wow." Yeah....
They got off before me, and the airport was the last stop and I stepped out into heat and this whole big city feel of the Reno we drove through was so disorienting. But not as disorienting as the airport itself was. Dude.
I got there around eleven, but I wasn't able to check in until 4. So I had five hours of sitting there.... and that's what I did.
Again, amen for having brought my computer, and amen for free wifi... I sat and noodled about online and people watched and tried not to think about needing to pee. (Couldn't leave my luggage, or ask someone to watch it. You're not supposed to do that anyway and there were constant announcements about heightened security... turns out it was the week of the 9/11 anniversary...) I watched airport drama unfold, and some nice lady gave me her leftover lunch and water "you look like you need it" (Oh crap, do I look that bad?) and after a long, long time, I was able to check in.
I paid for my suitcase (that's a thing I guess... sigh) and then I finally got to walk around a bit (and pee!) and this airport was so very BUY BUY BUY YOU NEED STUFF!!!! And had a mini casino and I just walked around shell shocked. Took photos of things and texted them to people back home who were equally enthralled and weirded out by the BUY BUY BUY AMERICANA feel to it all.
I went to eat at some point, but the meal I chose was so heavy (fried) that I didn't make it through that and the drink was so sweet (never had a Shirley Temple with coke before....) that I kept wondering what had happened... was it me? Or was it mainstream America. Where was my small town charm....?
When it came time to go through the... wherever... past security, I realized I hadn't flown since 9/11. That my trips into the states had been via ferry or driving, so this was my first experience with the shoes off, full body x-ray scan and it was intimidating and .. yeah... intimidating. I *knew* I was doing nothing wrong but I was still waiting to get "found out" or caught or something... it was bizarre. No likey.
So, through security and then on to the making sure I had the right gate and trying not to wonder about if I'd feel ok during the flight and then onto the flight.
Where the guy next to me continued to use his not turned off and not on airplane mode phone through the entire takeoff process making me want to scream at him.... but I breathed and stayed calm.
Then there was a landing, and a new airport and more people and wow Seattle airport is busy, and then there was another small plane and I cried most of the trip and kept telling myself I was going home, I was going home, I was going home.
And then we landed. I got my suitcase, I went through customs. "Nothing to declare but some chocolate?" "Yeah, sorry." (No idea why I said that... I was exhausted.)
I went through the doors and there was Jason and I burst into tears and gave him a giant hug.
It was all incredibly surreal and I somehow didn't even think I was actually there, and I hugged and kissed my beautiful, not on fire car and Jason drove me back to my place. Home. I had no words, but I was a mess. And the rumour was that I was home. Finally.