Express Buses

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Friday afternoon, I hadn’t been home for longer than five minutes when my dad informed me that he and his live-in girlfriend both had mono. Aren’t teenagers supposed to get mono? My dad hugs me, but doesn’t offer to carry my bag inside. My first thought was that I probably smelled like weed. My second thought was to hug back–and then to let go.

I’m nineteen and it’s my first spring break home from college. My original plans were to travel to Southern California to spend time with my mother. My week of sunshine, medical marijuana, and carefree walks on the beach was foiled when my mom decided she’d rather just give me the $300 instead of buying a $500 plane ticket for just four days. She promised she’d fly me out for at least two weeks in May. By the Wednesday morning before break, I had convinced myself it was in my best interest to skip my one afternoon class on Friday and get on a bus home by Thursday afternoon.  After few skillful white lies, a bus ticket, and taking advantage of one of my strategically collected excused absences, I was ready to get on a 4:15pm bus on Thursday bound for South Station. Having taken this particular bus route many times in the past year, I was confident I could purchase a ticket back to Maine for the one the evening Concord Coach express buses.

As expected, by noon on Thursday I was nowhere close to being ready to leave. My duffle was still in my closet and the majority of my clothes were either on my floor or sitting in my dirty laundry hamper. In an Adderall fueled moment of panic, I planned my afternoon down to the minute:

12:30-3:15pm: Class in Perry Hall. I had to turn in a group essay and then the class plan was to watch a documentary.

3:15pm: Head back to my dorm and pack my bag.

3:45pm: Leave my dorm and walk the three blocks up the street to the bus stop.

The moment I sat down in class, I realized several flaws in my schedule. I had forgotten two things: I needed to print my bus ticket at the library and I needed to buy at least a quarter of weed to bring home because there was no way I was going to deal with some high school dealer. Between turning in my group essay and the beginning of the documentary, I sprinted across campus to the library and printed my bus ticket.

Despite several impossible things working out in my favor, I boarded the Megabus soaking wet from the rain with muddy sneakers, a quarter of weed, and my wallet. My duffle bag was snugly stored below and my backpack conveniently took up the seat next to me. The rainy day had turned to a rainy night as we pulled into South Station five minutes ahead of schedule. I boarded the 8:15pm bus to Portland and listened to three Moth podcasts. I only remember a story about a gay kid who made friends with an inclusive skinhead and a game warden in Maine called as a first responder to a triple homicide. As the third episode ended we pulled past the Portland Sea Dogs stadium and into the bus station. My girlfriend picked me up because I’d conveniently forgotten to mention my change in plans to my dad. I decided it would be best to spend the night with her and return home Friday afternoon as I’d originally planned.

Waking up at home is an incomparable feeling. On the weekends my dad loves to brew his own coffee, make huevos rancheros and read The New York Times. Saturday morning as I sleepily stumbled down the stairs, the sounds and smells of my dad making breakfast are comfortably familiar but all I can think is: I hate how he saves the bacon grease. 

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