Seeing my sister for the first time in several years, after so much had happened. We Skype enough that she knows who I am now. She’s actually bared long-distance witness to the process. I can’t say that about too many other people in my life. Maybe one. I’m lucky.
Cheapest bus is on Orangeways, leaving at either midnight (how convenient?) or 7:30am. Set out at the un-Godly hour of 5:30am – it’s ok, I’m Atheist – in order to ensure a good hour’s worth of Getting Lost Time on the U-bahn. Being directionally-challenged has it’s disadvantages in saving time. (Advantages lie in constant unintentional ‘lost-in-wonderland’ outings.)
I sit at the Florenc bus station, tired as shit.
Headache, of course. The wait in this seat is five hours. Too tired to move, nervous. Surrounded by my backpacks and shoulder-bags, freshly acquired Czech kronas in my change-purse, munching on some sort of sugary Czech granola bar thing, I try not to burst into tears. The effort fails mildly as a few stray from weak eyes.
Time wanders, aimlessly. Each blonde-mopped small lady (at 26, can I call her girl?) that walks in the doors from either side is met with my searching gaze. A Russian couple sits/stands beside me for the better part of two hours, yammering on loudly. I make small talk with a nice Czech guy who tells me about his fashion-designer girlfriend. He watches my stuff during my bathroom breaks.
While traveling solo it is always necessary to find a Bathroom Watcher. Contrary to its confusing name, a bathroom-watcher is not a pervert in a stall, but rather an apparently trustworthy individual you appoint to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom. One of the skills necessary for the enlisting of a BW is the quick assess. In any given situation, Within a matter of seconds, you must be able to make a snap-judgment about a stranger to file them into one of two categories: 1. Somewhat trustworthy or 2. Not on my life would I let you guard even my pet rock.
Blonde, small.. nope. Blonde, small.. not even remotely close Kim how tired are you? At some point through my ached-head haze a bright pink jacket and blonde, long, blow-dried n’ straightened hair darts quickly towards me. Check and mate, that’s my blood-related kin (says the brown-haired/eyed girl). Leaky faucet tears reflexively creep down my cheeks instead of the water-avalanche I’d been bracing myself for.
Time for some sparkle motion. Jump up. Hug her. Happy, grateful, watery sockets. Surprisingly grounded, somehow.
She knows me officially now, In person. The dried-out, wiry hair, S.E.Asian attire. (Loose, light and low-quality is not how they roll in the EU… I stick out like a person who’s pretending she’s still in the sun and fun part of the world – or is too broke and lacking in care to create any false fashion pretenses.) Plastic bags, backpacks, the coins from many countries mixed in an old broken-zippered wallet. Dirty everyday leggings, holes-in-the-souls high top sneakers. Tired, teared eyes. Open heart and nervousness.
The gratitude for seeing family in the flesh, being welcomed in with open arms.
(Journey reference unintended.)