Wednesday, February 23, 2005
My Long Trek to Orlando..On a BUS!!
(Act 1)Spring 2001: I was in a very dangerous place, scary in fact. My father had just died, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had just been dumped after being in a relationship for five years. Disregarded for another man, which made matters even worse. I felt a combination of hurt feelings and foolish pride. Hurt because something that was a daily routine was coming to a end, and I had a hurt male ego because another man was going to make the woman that I love moan and scream while I contemplate throwing myself off a bridge. Looking back those feelings were so unlike me, possibly because I didn't really care about anyone until that point so the new feelings of hurt and betrayal were foreign to me. Sitting around constantly thinking about it was driving me crazy so I knew that I had to get out of town.
I had a friend name Jill who lived in Orlando Florida and I thought it was a great idea to check her out. OK, she wasn't really a friend, she was someone that I had met a a while ago but I kept it platonic simply because I was in a relationship. But now that I was single again, what better way to make myself feel better then to escape V.A and possibly get some unadulterated "out of town" sex. The trip to Orlando was unplanned, so unplanned in fact that I didn't reserve a hotel room or a rental car. So unplanned that I didn't go by plane, I decided to go by bus. I bought the bus ticket as I clinched a suitcase full of unfolded clothes, money, boxes of condoms, and about 20 little bottles of booze that would make the pain go away(albeit momentarily). I asked the cashier how many hours it was from Norfolk, Virginia to Orlando. She said, "with all the layovers and bus changes it's about 24 hours."
Jesus, 24 hours!!?? Well, I figured it would be therapeutic to have some time to myself and work some things out. As I looked out the window and as different scenery passed in front of my eyes, I silently wondered if this incredible pain would ever vanish. Between staring out of the window and sneaking sips of liquor, I had many interesting conversations with complete strangers. I don't know if the simple human interaction made me feel better, or the miserable state of affairs some of these individuals were in, but they definitely put my problems in the proper perspective.
I had a conversation with a woman named Gloria who had just had a sex change operation and her family was so furious that she claimed that they were trying to kill her(Her birth name was Gary). On a layover, I was in a freestyle session with a couple of Native American dudes who told me that they were trying to get a record deal and they were on their way to Miami.
A woman named Tracy sat beside me and through our conversation I learned that she had been a prostitute for 10 years. She said she had recently "stopped whoring" and it was her main ambition to get into the "pimping game." She even offered me a "mercy blow" because of my recent breakup. Tempting as it was, I politely declined.
There was a hour layover in some town in South Carolina, where I struck up a conversation with a woman named Diane. Diane was a sex therapist and she proceeded in asking me extremely personal questions about various topics. After about 15 minutes of intense interrogation, she told me that I was a sex addict and that sex is constantly on my mind. I responded, as nicely as I could, "No shit doc, You didn't need a PHD to tell me that!"
The last person that I met on my long journey was a 65 year old man named John. John looked just like Willie Nelson, no lie. He told me that he was active in the civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's, and that he was a Vietnam vet. When I told John that the only time I saw my father cry was when he told me how some white guys on his navy ship "cheered when JFK was killed", John also began to tear up. John was going to Orlando to visit his son, he seemed like a very nice man.
(Act 2)I arrived in Orlando, tired and irritated from the long ass bus ride that I had just taken. Jill said that she was going to pick me up so I waited at the bus station. After about a half hour she arrives and we were on our way. I told her that I needed to get a hotel so we searched for a vacant room, but apparently something was going on that weekend and everything was booked. Everything but the shittiest hotel room I have ever witnessed. No lie, the hotel that I stayed at was called "Howard Jones", not Howard Johnson but "Howard Jones". You get the idea, I wasn't exactly staying at the Ritz Carlton.
As soon as me and Jill entered my room it smelled like vintage ass and mildew, and a pimp was literally beating the shit out one of his "girls" next door. Jill says to me, "Critic, I have to tell you something." Looking rather frustrated due to the miserable state of affairs the room was in I said, "What is it??" She then informed me that she had a boyfriend, and she felt bad that she mislead me. "A boyfriend!", I said, "Why didn't you say something earlier, like before I got here!" She shrugged and give an insufficient response. In need of a drink, I pulled out some of my alcohol that I had in my bag. After about an hour we both got totally shit faced, and Jill was making advances toward me. I know that she had a boyfriend, but I figured since I will never see him face to face anyway then who cares. It was tye wrong thing to do, but I forgot about morals after me and Jill had a sweat induced hour of sin. She did things to me that would make a porn star brush, I have been crass on my blog before but even I can't specifically go there.
As Jill was leaving she tells me that her and her home-girl will be over at 9pm so we can go clubbing. It sounded good to me since I was definitely curious about the nightlife in the city. Around 9:30 the next evening I am dressed and ready to go and I hear someone honking the horn outside my room. I see its Jill so I venture out to her car, just knowing that this night will be one for the record books.
As I enter the automobile I immediately notice that a man is driving, then Jill says, "Critic, this is my boyfriend Mark." As I shook his hand I immediately felt like shit, knowing that I would be hanging with the boyfriend of a girl that 24 hours earlier I had her folded up like origami. On top of that, the guy ended up being one of the coolest guys on earth, which made me feel even more like a shit heel.
That night we went to various nightclubs and had a fantastic time. Avoiding a physical altercation that night was a must, not because I am grown and I know better, but because someone told me that if you get caught fighting in Orlando that they handcuff you to a tree until the bars close and the the cops take you to jail. I doubted the legitimacy of that claim, but I wasn't trying to find out.
I stayed in Orlando a few more days, seeing the city and conversing with the townspeople. Looking back it was so cathartic, it's like I was getting out of my own way. As I took the long bus ride back I felt so much better, even though I knew that the pain and the hurt would remain for some time. All the people that I talked to, the stories ranging from hope to despair, I realized what I experienced was a simple road bump on the roadway of life. Since then I keep my eyes on the road, and I drive anxiously awaiting what I will encounter next.