In Vino Veritas, In Hi-C Very Bad Stuff (Part 2)
Marisol's Word Tattoo -- Photo by Patrick Burlingham.
In July of 2002, Jason and I began one year of endless summer. We left New York at the end of the summer. Spent the fall and winter in Key West. Traveled around Thailand for two months in spring and returned to New York for the first week of July.
This is not about that journey.
This story begins with the day we got back.
Imaginably, we were tired. We were cranky. We had been traveling for over 24 hours by plane and boat and car. Our flight from Bangkok ended in New York, but we no longer had an apartment in the city. We ended our lease before we left for Thailand.
Instead of hanging out in the city at one of our friend's apartments and decompressing, we got off of a 17 hour flight and boarded the next departing 6 hour bus ride to Maine, where both sets of our parents reside.
The bus from New York City to Portland, Maine always results in a stopover in Boston. This wouldn't be so terrible, except that the stopover is sometimes an hour and a half long. This is the same amount of time it takes to drive from Boston to the little town in Maine where Jason and I grew up.
So, you end up sitting in a bus station that is located an hour or so from where you are going. The same amount of time it takes to get to your destination. This is one of those frustrating truths about travel sometimes. You surrender control.
Two weary travelers wake up one day in Bangkok. The night before they had taken a boat from a tropical island nearby. That morning, they take a car to the airport. They take two flights to get to New York. They take a shuttle bus from the airport gate. They take a subway to the bus depot. They ride a bus for over 4 hours.
It is some ungodly hour of the morning. They are tired and they smell like an unplugged refrigerator. Their shoulders are raw from the straps of heavy backpackers packs. Their hair is uncombed, their teeth are fuzzy with neglect.
There is pain in muscles they did not know exist. They are tired of each other.
There are limited options for food in the South Station in Boston, Massachusetts at 5 a.m. That morning, our two weary travelers chose red plastic bucket seats underneath the humming glow of the bright yellow arches. She tells him she wants to go to the bathroom to wash any body part that will fit in the sink.
He says, "Go ahead. I'll order. What do you want to drink?"
She says, "Iced tea."
She returns from an unfulfilling journey to the ladies room to find him perched over a tray with a McSandwich of some sort. The skin under his eyes sags like the tits of an old hippie mother who breastfed 12 children.
She sits down across from him and reaches for her drink. The translucent lid reveals a faint orange color, but she doesn't think much of it until she touches the plastic straw to her tongue.
It is orange soda.
"What is this?"
"This." She shakes the drink. "This beverage."
"Yeah. Hi-C orangeade or something."
"But, I said iced tea."
She looks at him and starts crying. He chews his food silently and states something obvious.
There are moments in one's life when the weight of truth become unbearable and unavoidable all at once. Like when you are caught in a lie. Information compresses within your skull until it becomes almost solid. It is an epiphany that reveals, not joyful buoyancy, but excruciating gravity.
It occurred to me in that moment in the Greyhound bus station that I could not be with a man who thought that I would drink orangeade at 5 in the morning in front of a McDonald's after traveling for 24 hours straight. I felt like anyone who could not inherently know these simple things about me could not possibly love or know me.
The trip was supposed to bring us to a new understanding of what we wanted to be. As a couple. As individuals. But, it turned out that everyday tasks only revealed even more significant questions. Suddenly, we had an answer.
We broke up on the spot.
But, what does this have to do with wine???
To be continued . . .