The 'California dreamin' long yearned vacation was ending. My lifelong friend Helen left the night before; my traveling buddy was on a plane somewhere over the US. I found myself at a Greyhound bus station in SF, alone and thinking about the next weeks I was going to spend up north. I was looking around, watching people getting ready for their next adventure.
Americans tend to avoid Greyhound buses. Being a foreigner, I have always dreamed about the "bus with a dog" I'd seen in movies. Ever since the first time I visited the US I've made a habit of crossing the country in these great buses.
When boarding a Greyhound bus, you soon realize you're about to meet all kinds of vagrants; suggestive, artistic and unique kinds of souls. When you travel alone success is guaranteed. You look for a seat, you sit down and the person next to you makes introductions. They start telling you why they're on a bus, where they're going, what they do in life. Then the bus driver starts to list all the things you cannot do on a bus...it seems like an auction chant. You can't really talk to the other person anymore. After the chant, it's your turn and you can tell your story. If the seat next to you is not taken, I always sit close to the window...some Bob Dylan in my ears or a good book and it seems like the adventure is starting.
While leaving the bay, Scott McKenzie sang about 'Frisco and amid the fog I could catch sight of her famous bridge.
At the next bus stop, I can see an African-American group of people hugging and kissing each other goodbye; It seemed to me like someone was leaving for college. A guy came over and asked me if he could sit next to me. I remember his face because while waiting at the SF bus station I noticed the great amount of luggage he had: backpacks and huge carton boxes. As a ritual we introduced each other and soon started to talk when it was still clear outside. This guy was visiting his family and he turned out to be of Italian origins. I was probably the first 100% Italian he had ever met and he started to make questions about the place I was from. I shared my love for his country and the west coast. We talked and talked until it was dark outside. The bus made stops every two hours. The American obsession to indulge on fast food is irresistible; you can find a Mc Donalds even in the middle of the desert and I have learned that people can eat at every hour of the day and the night.
It was late but it seemed like my new travel mate and I weren't really tired. We were only feeling a little bit drowsy. It was around 3 AM, I guess, when we got to Medford, OR; someone arrived at their destination but it wasn't me. I don't remember exactly what was said, but since then I've been in touch with Tony Boitano, an Oregonian I met on a Greyhound bus. I slept for the rest of the trip and got to my destination Portland, OR around 9 AM. Another town, another adventure. A new friend.