We got to to New York and met up with our friend Max, who would accompany us for the entire trip. We actually met these crazy cats in the NY station who had some crazy stories about greyhound and how awful they are at maintaining their buses and delays and everything. what struck me the most was the man who missed his own mother’s funeral because of these things. I can’t even imagine the grief.
Another meeting in New York was particularly significant. On the bus to Pittsburgh, I noticed the person to my left writing what looked like lyrics or poetry in a notepad, looking out of the giant bus windows. As a songwriter myself, I was curious. what ensued was the fabrication of what turned out to be an incredible bonding experience that lasted throughout the trip to Minnesota. We met a Nigerian hip hop artist named Jae, who was a senior at Boston University, who was on his way to Minneapolis to visit his girl. Needless to say, we would have plenty of time to get to know each other.
eventually, we got to pittsburgh. that’s where life actually started for me. before, I was simply an apparition on this earth and saw nothing but reflections. I owe that city much to my self-realization process. initially, we got there at around 9:30am (way ahead of schedule), and our next bus to cleveland, OH wasn’t supposed to be leaving for another 8 hours. we could have paid extra for the one that would leave within the hour, but we are broke college students, so that wasn’t an option. Our friend Max, by happenstance, knew a friend in Pittsburgh. A high school friend who was also studying jazz guitar. Jae, John, Max and I hit Pittsburgh downtown immediately to dig the new city and to eventually meet up with Alex, Max’s friend. After kicking it in a local chinese restaurant, Alex picked us up and took us out for a psychadelic experience of cranberries and vinyl. Long story, talk to either John or I for the full tilt.
On our way back to the station that night, we were pretty optimistic. we had a wonderful time in pittsburgh and were ready to kick it in cleveland. As soon as we got to the station, we found out about a huge snow storm in Ohio and that all buses going west were cancelled “until further notice.” One lady claimed that we may not get out until monday. it was friday night.
It reminded me of hurricane katrina images. there were so many people scattered across the station floors, huddling together in despair. The water fountains weren’t running, and a bottle of water cost $2.50. I felt so horrible, looking at all of the women and their young children who were undoubtedly hungry but could not afford food or drink. I ended up giving away much of my granola that I had stocked up on for the trip.
That the next morning, I woke up lying on the ground with my head against the wall listening to sounds of the Qur’aan. sounds I haven’t heard in a very long time. I saw this guy with a Kufia on his head, listening to the holy scripture coming from what looked like a cell phone. I thought this must be a good sign. As it turned out, the station looked even more crowded that morning.