Hitchhiking flashbacks

July 19, 2007

I used to hitchhike a lot in college. I’d put on jeans, white tennis shoes, a brownish Harris tweed jacket, Oxford shirt, and a tie loose around my neck. I never got molested by any roving cruising homos, or psychopaths. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Once I was hitchhiking from Madison Wisconsin to Omaha Nebraska. Once i got down to the I-80 this guy picked me up. I got in, he looked like he was on drugs, and there was a really funky smell in the car. I looked in the back seat and saw a dog, clearly in pain, struggling on dirty blankets. “She’s about to give birth to puppies. I just beat my wife in Cincinnati and she probably called the cops on me. I don’t know. Shit. I don’t know.”

“Can I drive, you’ve been driving a long way?” I offered. We had all of Iowa to go across, and that is a long state, especially at 10:30 at night.

“Naw, I dropped some acid as I was leaving town, and I’m pretty much down now. I had some coffee at the last truck stop.” I was reassured by that last bit of information but watched the road like a hawk for the next six hours.

I digress. This week I decided I needed to stay in touch with my “inner-kid” and instead of hitchhiking, I’d take public transportation to Palm Springs and leave the car with Daniel. I was so proud that I’d worked out the whole trip.

Packed with my heavy black-wheeled bag, I locked the door and walked to the bus stop. 5 minutes. Waited for the bus. 10 minutes. Bus takes me to Hollywood and Highland across from Grauman’s Movie Theater. 7 minutes. I walk across the street, past the throngs of tourists, and the far too many actors dressed as some movie character, and street musicians and took the escalator down, down, down for my first time into the Los Angeles Subway system (the red line). All very easy to traverse. Clean. Safe. $1.25 to get downtown. I wait for 5 minutes for the subway to whisk me down to Union Station.

15 minutes later I walk into the elegant and well-kept Union Station to get my Amtrak train to Palm Springs. It being 1 pm, I’m hungry. “I’m sure there was some cool restaurant down here.” Determined I zoomed across the marble floor and found Mecca. The place is called Traxx, and I was able to escape for an hour into the lifestyle to which I am normally accustomed and had a Petite Syrah and a Waldorf salad. An hour later, having relaxed and lunched, and dealt with all my emails on my iPhone, I walked to catch my train. I looked at the departure board and was puzzled to not see my train’s number. I went to the information booth asking where I was to go.

I said “I feel as though I’m about to go to Hogwarts and that my platform is not advertised and will just open up before my eyes when the time is right.” She just looked at me not getting the Harry Potter reference. And no such luck. The train doesn’t run on Thursdays. So I had to schlep all the way back home: train to Hollywood, bus home, walk a half mile.

When I took off to go hitchhiking, I had to “let go” of time and expectations. I took on the same attitude today. It was ok, it was an adventure and I had fun even tho I didn’t get to Palm Springs.

Tomorrow, I’ve resolved to rip up my Amtrak ticket into teeny little pieces and drive out to PS with Ronnie in her new Boxter. So there.

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