On that last day, I head around Λάρισα to say good-bye to everyone. Τασος has an envelope which he tells me not to open until I'm on the plane. The waitress-girl at the corner restaurant who's smiled at me the past few days wishes me safe travels. I collect my bags and begin walking towards the square.
I pass by a sidewalk table of Greek men. "Τουρίστα?", they ask, indicating that I should join their meal. "Πρέπει να φύγω", I reply, "I must go." I make a stop to satiate my ice cream fixation and walk away with a very large free cone.
I drop by Christine's office to say good-bye and discover I don't know how to get in. After hitting random call buttons at the door for a while the buzz and I walk inside. She explains that my visit's been somewhat stressful - it breaks the rhythms of life. I ask if she'd like to accompany me to the station, but she doesn't think that would make sense. With a last wave, I shoulder the stupid-extra-bag and we part ways.
I head to the central square early to meet Θεο. When we'd met at the Playhouse he'd offered to drive me to the station, though the act is largely symbolic since it takes only fifteen or so minutes to walk there. Arriving early turns out to be a needless appointments in my world tend to be at non-specific times, and Θεο's Greek, so we share an understanding about this. We walk fifteen minutes in the opposite direction to where he's parked his car and now there's only fifteen minutes before the train leaves.
Traffic crawls across town and the clock ticks closer. This, naturally, is exactly how I would end up either departing Greece, or staying there forever.
I've been skipping stones the past few days and the trip home is going to be complicated. Θεο's going to drop me off at the Λάρισα train station. I'll take the train to Athens where I'll have about an hour to somehow find a bus or train across town, though everything's under construction and no one knows the routes. From there, I'll fly overnight to Barcelona and catch a different flight to Ireland where, again, I'll transfer planes and hop the pond to Chicago. In Chicago, I'll take the L someplace or other and spend the night with Ed, a friend of a friend. Following that, I'll somehow get downtown and catch the Megabus to Madison, where I'll meet up with Becca. I'll spend a night with her and meet up with my parents to travel home.
In short ride home will consist of: walking, car ride, train ride, subway ride, bus ride, plane ride, plane ride, plane ride, subway, subway, subway, bus, walking, walking, bus, subway, subway, Megabus, friend, parents. Naturally, there are even more complicated back-up plans and back-up plans for the back-up plans. As a last resort, I'll move to Mt. Athos and become a monk.
Sitting in Θεο's car, crawling through traffic and pedestrians, watching the clock tick down, I make mental measurements for my habit. The clock reaches the time when the train should depart and Θεο chooses that moment to tell me it's a little fast. Now I don't know how long we have.
|There's a train on the tracks when we arrive at the station, but it's the wrong one. The right one pulls up and I'm off. The train full resounds with life at the beginning of the trip, but, four or five hours later, as we pull into benighted Athens, its only a murmur. The man next to me has been making slow and intermittent conversation for hours, now he points the way to the subway. I remember nothing about the train station or getting to the subway… the montage has begun.|
Problems with the tickets, an Athenian subway guard redirects me. The subway wisks me to a bus stop where I play pennywhistle near what I think is the first stop, until the bus I want rumbles by and stops a half-mile down the road. I catch the next one.
|The Athens airport, I discover, has a beautiful upstairs for departing travellers - a stark constrast the dismal, concrete downstairs in which I'd arrived in Greece. Just like Heathrow… hmmmm.|
|I don't really remember waiting for the flight, but at 2:55AM I was in the air.|
We touched down in Barcelona and, with a few hours between flights, I dragged myself behind an esculator, spread out my pad and went to sleep. But not for long. Thwack! Thwack! I opened my eyes to find a Spanish airport guard hitting me repeatedly with his baton. I sat up and began asking him angrily, "Why are you hitting me?" English didn't work. Thwack! I tried German. Thwack! Greek? Thwack! I scraped together remnants of a few other languages, but he was having none of it. I gathered my stuff together amid his barrage and we emerged from behind the esculator. I was expecting to see a few more guards waiting to take me into custody somewhere, but, now that I was awake, the guard simply wandered over to a bench and began hitting another sleeping person.
There are only two cities I've ever wanted to go to. One is Havana, the other was Barcelona. I'm rethinking that.
|In the air again at 10:50AM. Things are better than they were on TransAvia, but after GreenlandAir nothing can ever be the same.|
|At 12:30PM in Dublin's fair city, I get in touch with my addiction to Innocent juice and experience the enjoyment of the UK's signage: in the States you're supposed to exit buildings in an orderly fashion should disaster strike. In the UK, you flee.|
|Which is what I do at 2:20PM. The girl in front of me in the queue is a cellist traveling with her instrument. Life tears us apart and, an hour later, I'm back over Greenland. Two hours of RST after Dublin, I'm in Chicago, but not yet home.|
|To do that, we'll need a three different subway transfers… and a bus.|
|This takes me past one of the buisnesses I use to front my travel and, ultimately, to Ed's.|
Ed's a cartoonist living in what can only be described as a seedy apartment. He and his artistic roommates are pretty cool, though, and we have a big box of Mac & Cheese for supper. I watch Pushing Daisies with TODO until a party began in the living room. I retreated to her bed where I spent the night.
|The next day, I reappraised my evaluation. The apartment was nice, it was the bathroom that was seeded. I was using a tap which didn't have hot water and collecting the water that was there in a bowl because the drain didn't work. The shower had its own set of problems.|
Bidding the Ed & Company farewell, I got on a bus, and then the subway, and another, and another, and found myself waiting for the MegaBus to Minneapolis. I was overlapping the beginning of my journey now. That bus, however, never came, so I got put on the MegaBus to Madison. I again stole the top, front seat and tried to find directions for meeting up with Becca.
And screwed up, so finding each other took about longer than it should have. Then I had to find a post office to mail my credit card to Mike in Bristol so he could return my unused GreenlandBoots to Taunton Leisure. (I'm told mailing credit cards to people is unwise, but, nonetheless, that's what happened.) We stopped by a Culver's for hot fudge sundaes and then headed out to Minneapolis.
It was good being back with a friend and, that night, having a very comfortable bed.
The next day was a simple trip up to the Forks with my parents and the summer had ended.
Two days later I arrived at my new house about nine hours before school started.