Part 14 – Florida

One of the oldest inspirational sayings I know is about how it is not the destination but the journey that truly matters. So, in the spring of 2000 I decided to take a journey to Florida. My destination was North Miami, with a stop in Sarasota. First I¿d visit my old friend Cindy in Sarasota and then down to meet up with a new friend, Helen, in North Miami.

I¿m sure that the first thing you¿re wondering about is how it was that my wife Mary actually agreed to this trip. I was going to be several hundreds of miles away for over a week. AND I was going to spend the bulk of that time with two single women, younger women at that.

Part of it was that Mary knew both Cindy and Helen. They were friends of hers as well. She trusted them. She trusted me.

That and the fact I¿m almost completely clueless when it comes to women flirting with me. There¿s just something wrong with my wiring when it comes picking up when a woman is coming on to me. Really. If a woman is in the least bit subtle, I miss it entirely. I just think they¿re being friendly. And if a woman is more aggressive about it, I figure she¿s stoned or drunk.

We were in a bar in Cleveland, back when the Flats were the big hot spot. It was me, Mary, and a couple of other couples. We were on the back deck, drinking and having a good time. There was a woman a few tables away that looked somewhat familiar and was acting friendly. She smiled. I smiled. I paid little attention to it. Mary and her friend insist to this day that the woman was trying to pick me up. They also insist it was Charlene Tilton, the young blonde from ¿Dallas¿. I just can¿t quite bring myself to believe it.

Anyway, I digress; I decided to take a trip to Florida. To get the most out of it, I decided to take the Greyhound. Yes, I took the bus to Sarasota. It took a little over 33 hours one way.

If you want to see what this country looks like, take a bus. Apparently a large part of the country looks a lot like a six lane Interstate Highway. Or two lane country highways. There are a good number of truck stops in this land of ours. AND small towns with bus stations smaller than my house.

There aren¿t a lot of middle age folks on the bus. There¿s mostly folks in their 20¿s and folks in their 80¿s. The folks in their 80¿s weren¿t the ones on for the long ride. Almost everyone was riding alone. Not many couples or families.

The best way I found to amuse myself during the ride was to try to image where these folks were going, why were they going there, and why were they taking the bus. Okay, why was pretty easy. It¿s cheap. No one riding the Greyhound looks like the people that ride first class on planes. But that¿s so easy and uninteresting. I mean, I could¿ve flown to Florida. Southwest had flights that were almost the same as the bus. Why ride the bus? Well, so somebody wouldn¿t know where you were of course. All those little bus stations along the way; you could change directions at the drop of a hat.

There was a young woman that got on the bus somewhere around Akron. She had a little boy with her. They sat way in the back and didn¿t talk to anyone. At every stop they¿d get out. The little boy would go to the bathroom and she would smoke a cigarette. She would always be looking up and down the road. And they¿d hurry back to the bus and not talk to anyone. They rode the bus as far as Jacksonville and disappeared forever.

Who were they? Who was she looking out for? Was that her son? Brother? Cousin? Next door neighbor¿s kid?

There also seems to be a lot of large people that ride the bus. Large sleepy people. Large sleepy people that had to sit next to me. And fall asleep on me.

I had a great time. There were plenty of stories to make up.

“Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said be careful his bowtie is really a camera.”
-Simon and Garfunkle, America

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