The Greyhound Diaries

Bus travel seems simple enough, right? You get on the bus for a certain number of hours. Maybe you transfer in Boston. You bring a pillow and sleep most of the ride, especially if it’s a late bus. You read. Maybe pull out your laptop to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. You get to stare wistfully out the window as you drive through different states. And a couple times throughout the trip, you get the opportunity to stretch your legs during a ten minute pit stop.

Sometimes the bus leaves you there.

Yeah, I thought my travel stories were over too. But no. All we wanted to do was use a real bathroom and maybe buy a soda. And a candy bar. That’s all we wanted!

It’s not really a long or complicated story. An hour outside of our destination in Waterville the driver announced we’d be taking a ten minute break at the gas station. Roddy and I were pretty desperate to stretch our legs and get something to drink, so we left my laptop and his phone on the seat, I grabbed my purse, and we headed inside. We used the bathroom, chose our beverages, and as I was paying we noticed that our lovely, giant, state of the art Greyhound bus was nowhere to be seen. I thought he was joking, but no. It was gone; along with our luggage and electronics, displayed out in the open for all the crazy bus-folk to see.

The man working at this gas station/bus stop was right on the case, calling up the Bangor station and alerting them to the problem. Of course, there was no way to actually get a hold of the driver to let him know that maybe he should rethink his career as a man who drives people to and from destinations, instead of stranding them in bumfuck Maine where a man with a ill-fitting toupee and pajama pants sits in his giant truck, fondling his eagle-head cane and stares at them while he eats his gas station pizza. Maybe he should have followed his dream of being a tap dancer.

We were not the only ones left behind. Among us was an elderly gentleman who went by the name of Warren. Warren was inexplicably covered in blood. Lots of it. All over his shirt and pants. (I wish I was making this up). We didn’t ask why, it seemed best to leave it alone.

So, we called my dad and let him know the situation. He was already in Bangor, so he left immediately to come find us. Only about 45 minutes away. Warren joined forces with us, and we didn’t object because, like I said, he was COVERED IN BLOOD. We agreed to take him to Bangor, and he called his friend who was waiting for him and we were able to tell her everything we had on the bus so she could make sure it all got off alright.

Then we waited. It wasn’t a bad wait. There was a small mix-up with what exit we were actually off of. The locals swore it was exit 33, but it turned out it was exit 127. (Because that’s the same). But, my dad did eventually find us, and we drove back to Bangor with blood-covered Warren, retrieved our stuff that was all thankfully accounted for, and are currently en route to Bar Harbor as I type this.

Also, we were just given free strawberry shortcake by girls on the side of the road outside of a bank. Welcome to Maine.

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Be the heroine of your life.

Okay, can we please talk about Nora Ephron for a little bit?

Feel however you want to about romantic comedies – and we all know you secretly love them anyway – she wrote and directed (sometimes both at the same time) some of the most memorable romcoms in the history of the genre that you KNOW you spend your Sundays watching on TBS.

“When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first – that way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.”– Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

Movies aside (by the way, they include When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie & Julia), her life was kind of amazing. I’m not here to copy and paste the Wikipedia article, but it’s worth mentioning. She was an intern in JFK’s White House, a mail girl at Newsweek, a journalist, a playwright, and essayist. Few people know all that. In fact, I didn’t know all that until I read this New York Times article. In whatever field she decided to dabble in, she excelled. She made a name for herself. And she was good. That is more than any of us can ever hope for.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had — this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. Twenty-five years from now, you won’t have as easy a time making excuses as my class did. You won’t be able to blame the deans, or the culture, or anyone else: you will have no one to blame but yourselves. Whoa.

…And this is something else I want to tell you, one of the hundreds of things I didn’t know when I was sitting here so many years ago: you are not going to be you, fixed and immutable you, forever. We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was your age, I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won’t make the list in ten years — not that you still won’t be some of those things, but they won’t be the five most important things about you. Which is one of the most delicious things available to women, and more particularly to women than to men. I think. It’s slightly easier for us to shift, to change our minds, to take another path. Yogi Berra, the former New York Yankee who made a specialty of saying things that were famously maladroit, quoted himself at a recent commencement speech he gave. “When you see a fork in the road,” he said, “take it.” Yes, it’s supposed to be a joke, but as someone said in a movie I made, don’t laugh this is my life, this is the life many women lead: two paths diverge in a wood, and we get to take them both. It’s another of the nicest things about being women; we can do that. Did I say it was hard? Yes, but let me say it again so that none of you can ever say the words, nobody said it was so hard. But it’s also incredibly interesting. You are so lucky to have that life as an option.”
— Nora Ephron, Wellesley Commencement Address, 1996

And while part of me doesn’t want to make this an entry that boils down to “LOOK WHAT SHE DID FOR WOMEN, LOOK WHAT WOMEN CAN DO”… it’s hard to avoid. She graduated college at a time where women got married, had children, and watched their husbands accomplish the things they dreamed about in school. She watched both of her screenwriter parents succumb to alcoholism. She’s living proof that human beings, women or men, are capable of so much more than what is expected of them.

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
– Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

I know that some Sunday in the near future I will be in my pajamas on the couch forcing Roddy to watch one of her movies that TBS will air twice in a row, just in case we miss the beginning. (Though he’ll secretly enjoy it). I’ll be crying when Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly discover they’ve been chatting together on the internet, when Harry and Sally finally get together, or when Sam Baldwin describes his wife on a national radio show. All the while wondering if I, too, could cook my way through Julia Child’s cookbook. Because if Julie Powell can, why can’t I?

“Sam Baldwin: Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
Doctor Marcia Fieldstone: Tell me what was so special about your wife?
Sam Baldwin: Well, how long is your program? Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were suppose to be together… and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home… only to no home I’d ever known… I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like… magic.”
– Sam Baldwin, Sleepless in Seattle

I hope to have lived a life half that full and satisfying. I hope to do what I love and make a mark on the world in the process. I hope to try new things, I hope to not be afraid to fail. Oh, and also, this may go without saying… but… I’ll have what she’s having.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.
-Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

*K

And I would put them back in poetry, if I only knew how.

There are many situations where I find myself at a loss for words. I opened Facebook at work, just to glimpse for a minute, and saw the news of Pat Woodward’s passing. I didn’t know what to do. Or say. Part of me thought it must have been a joke. I read the status and said to myself “This cannot be real.”

I just can’t find the right words. The loss of Pat, of Anne Lommel, of Chris Thomas. Chris kept us humble, Anne kept us fabulous, and Pat made sure we were there at all. I cannot imagine the theater department at Pace University without these people. And what I find totally heartbreaking? That there will be class after class after class of students who will never know them. That is one of the greatest injustices of them all.

And on the flipside, one of my greatest gifts is that I did know them. I feel lucky to have been taught, dressed, coached, excused, helped, yelled at, and counseled by them. I wouldn’t give back the extra hours I spent in the costume shop because I just could not sew, the lunches I spent with Kadey chatting with Chris, or the seemingly endless string of e-mails between myself and Pat where I was told over and over that, yes, I needed to take all of these AOKs, no I can’t get out of them, but yes, I am going to graduate on time if I just take public speaking over the summer.

I am grateful for the conversations, the sarcastic quips, and the endless hours of work that always produced something more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I’ll never forget Anne bringing me my costume for the opening scene of Carousel: the bright yellow leotard and the ornate headpiece, telling me to trust her. I became a part of a human carousel, and at the end, I couldn’t have imagined it any other way.

Life keeps moving on. We can’t change that. The best we can do is to continue to live our lives, take what we’ve learned from them, and every now and then pay tribute. What I find indescribably amazing is the way we all come together to share stories, photos, memories, and lessons. That is the impact and legacy of a truly great teacher and person.

So maybe I can’t find the right words, but I think that’s because they don’t really exist. There are no words that communicate profound loss. But there are words that celebrate, words that remember, words that form thoughts, ideas, and creations that are inspired by those who left us too soon. Those are the words they would want us to use.

Will: As we get close to the river, we see that everybody is already there. And I mean everyone…It’s unbelievable.

Edward: The story of my life.

Will: And the strange thing is, there’s not a sad face to be found, everyone is just so glad to see you. And send you off right. You become what you always were…A very big fish. And that’s how it happens.

Edward: Exactly.

-Big Fish

*K

Wisdom from Pooh

All I ever needed to know, I learned from a bear.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. I’ll always be with you.”

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“I wonder what Piglet is doing,” thought Pooh.
“I wish I were there to be doing it, too.”

“Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would I’d never leave.”

“Some people care too much, I think it’s called love.”

“The hardest part is what to leave behind, … It’s time to let go!”

“They’re funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.”

“Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

— A.A. Milne

*K