Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

pittsburgh blues, pt. 2

StuckWe had to get outta that bus station. Max already went back to New York the night before, unfortunately, since he had finals that week and the prospect of getting from MN by monday seemed bleak at best. At around 8am, Greyhound announced that nothing was going west for at least another day, so it proved to be a wise choice.

While Jae and I surprisingly slept a full seven hours, John hadn’t slept a wink all night. Jae spent the next two or three hours yelling at his girl, trying to convince her that, yes, he was actually stuck and he wasn’t lying. In the meantime, I looked to James Joyce for company. Eventually, John woke up and I reiterated our need to get the hell outta dodge. I heard from some folks that the promise land is yonder across the bridge a little ways from the station. So, we were off.

The Bee HiveWhile we walked down East Carson/Southside, we noticed the plethora of bars littered across this drunken boulevard of a has-been town. I stopped at a Lebanese restaurant for some hummus and some warmth. I initiated conversation with our waitress, Cori, who I told about our adventure thus far and our plans with the bus. She then very readily assured us that she could find us a place to spend the night. Meanwhile, we went to this cafe down the way, called the bee hive, where we subsequently spent the next 6-7 hours sheltering ourselves from the rain and cold. Cori did eventually call us, but plans unfortunately didn’t pull through, so we decided to get drunk. Jae bought us a bottle of rum and we spent the next few hours sipping out of hour Arizona ice tea cans at the good ol’ bee hive, watching YouTube videos of Julie Andrews singing Supercalafragilisticexpealadotious. What a night. In the height of our inebriation, we decided to splurge on a room between the three of us at the holiday inn. Good decision. After a continental breakfast the next morning, we were on our way back to the station.

That morning we finally left for cleveland. It was incredible. The sun was shining, the storm fully subsided, things were looking good. We met a lot of really cool cats on that bus. The dude behind me was a Sierra-Leonian man with pharonic glasses and a thick accent. The guy next to me was a soft-spoken Liberian who spoke softly to the beautiful girl sitting next to him all the way to cleveland. We found out he was just getting back from spring break and was on his way back to Toledo University. Jae had a really close call midway. After we started moving from a pit-stop, John noticed that Jae was missing from his seat in front of us and we all yelled at the bus driver to stop. Apparently, he went off for a cigarette and overheard me saying how thirsty I was, so he ran to a nearby gas-station to pick up a bottle of water for me. You can’t even imagine how guilty I would have felt.

At Cleveland station, we met up with this army dude who jumped into our conversation we were having about bad food. He assured us that it didn’t get any worse than army rations. He then continued to describe how he was back from Iraq and how he got shot in the neck and seriously screwed up his foot and wrist in combat. Immediately after, he showed us videos on his cellphone of his two children he has back home, along with his beautiful wife, who’s pregnant with a third. This dude was 20 years old. After he told us that he had six more years of service, I told him, “listen man, fuck the army. take your wife and kids and open up a bar in Puerto Rico and never come back. You have too much to lose.” He immediately picked up his phone and called his wife and she readily agreed to it. I really hope I saved his life. Goddamn this war.

the beginning, pt. I

Setting OutSo leaving hartford greyhound station on thursday (before my spring break started), I could not have imagined what kind of crazy adventures I was about to embark on.

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.

At a rest stopeventually, 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.

Stuck

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Stuck, originally uploaded by somjuan.

We’re stuck in Pittsburgh, thanks to snow in Ohio, which is now heading towards us.