After celebrating NYE at Jason’s place (I had a tame night) we eventually head back to my place around 1pm so that I can shower and do my hair before hitting the road. It’s a race against the clock but we find the bus station just in time with ten minutes to spare. The first bus is to Mobil, Alabama with a couple hours wait for the connecting bus to Montgomery, Atlanta. Whilst here I catch up with social media, have some light hearted and very amusing conversation with some of my friends and read on my kindle. I also get burger and chips for dinner (I die a little on the inside when I naturally use American terms instead of English ones). The next bus journey to Atlanta is long, I spend a while listening to my iPod to pass the time and forget how much pain my stomach is in. Sleeping is really difficult but I copy the girls opposite me and eventually catch some winks although I have to wake up and change position- so glad I brought my new blanket with me! The next bus is to Charlotte and my eyes are burning from a lack of sleep. I down a bottle of Apple juice and buy a cookie for later. This bus is packed so I have to sit next to a large, overweight, loud, fidgety middle aged bloke who has no respect for personal space as I’m boxed up against the window with my bags whilst holding my “acid” tongue. I’m feeling claustrophobic and I pray he won’t try to talk to me. He doesn’t, thank The Lord. Just snores and hawks which makes me feel even more unpleasant and grotty.
It’s a relief to get off the bus and enjoy my physical and personal space! I freshen up straight away, collect my tickets for this evening and respond to my messages whilst I have Wi-Fi. I head towards the Bank of America stadium, home to the Carolina Panthers. I’m actually looking for Starbucks so I ask an approachable looking couple (Elizabeth would be so proud) for directions. After the usual small talk and not knowing where Leicester is they give me one of their brand new team caps that they had literally just bought in the club store. I accept this gesture and make my way to Starbucks for breakfast. After this I walk around the City, taking photos of the generic tourist spots- the green, the various statues, the artwork, the NASCAR hall of fame, the time cable arena, the cemetery and the signs- proving I’ve been here (ha). I still have hours to spare but leaving Charlotte to explore another area feels too risky since I’m getting the bus there tonight to Richmond. Sounds like a typical case of “Sod’s law.” I go to Starbucks (a different one) for lunch- I actually haven’t had Starbucks since my last road trip. After this I resume reading on my kindle again at one of the local parks for an hour and head to the five guys in the epic centre for dinner when it begins to rain. I take some night time photos and then head back to the bus station as it’s really started to rain now. I end up talking to Kathy for at least an hour when I’m so worn out and should really be sleeping. It’s harder to sleep on a bus than you’d think- I’ve taken to having a blanket fort- it worked for the night!
My eyes are burning. I’m so tired but there’s no chance of a nap in this crowded station so I buy breakfast and a hot chocolate and then catch the bus to downtown. I start talking to a girl who believes I’m 20 and Australian until I correct her. I wish I hadn’t of corrected her, it would be interesting to see how long I could pull it off. She said England was her 2nd guess anyway, but still- I’m pleased as punch! She also tells me that I’m “one brave woman to travel so far on your own and to be careful.” As we board the bus she starts to throw up on the sidewalk- first day at a new job or something. The driver makes off without her. I feel bad, if she was my friend I wouldn’t have left but we didn’t even exchange names. Because what was the point? It was small talk and our paths won’t cross again. The bus isn’t frequent either so I head downtown with Starbucks being my first stop. I then walk a couple of miles to and around Belle Isle and the Riverfront and it’s raining now so I put my Knicks hat on, not caring for how I must look (very masculine). After this I embark on a long walk to the Edgar Allan Poe museum. It’s cheap at $5 and also quite interesting. It always occurs to me how we study/ watch these “celebrities” but they really are just normal people with normal problems. I’m really hungry after this exhibit and head to subway. My legs and feet really hurt. Lack of sleep and lots of walking make the days drag out and the pain never subsides. Yet it’s not like I’ll be coming back to these places again so I push myself through the tiredness and soreness to do everything I want to do whilst in the area. At least my stomach has stopped hurting now though! I do the rest of the tourist sites and then head back to the bus station because it’s rainy and getting really cold! Once at the bus station I get talking to the guy next to me called Curtis. I’m so numb with cold he gives me his coat to put on my legs and I’m touched by the thoughtfulness. We talk quite a bit before he has to catch his bus but I actually swap contact details with him because he was so nice to me. The bus is late which is really annoying so I rely on my friends to entertain me via Wi-Fi.
Omg I wake up in the WRONG State! I slept through my stop- which was five HOURS ago!! I immediately start to panic, I can’t believe this has happened! Those who know me will know that once I start to worry that’s it- I don’t know how to relax. There’s always something to worry about, I believe. I line up at the ticket desk and check online times but luckily a driver says he’ll take me back so I can catch my bus from Charleston West Virginia tonight. I don’t know what to say so I just touch his arm in a gesture of gratitude and he’s really nice to me. However it’s only once I’m there that I realise I should have skipped going back and gone straight to Nashville so another driver takes me there. I’m lucky not to be charged any extra for this! I’ve seen all the countryside (rather bitterly) and have no desire to see them again anytime soon. Before leaving Wytheville I eat at McDonald’s but I’m so hungry I wolf it and don’t taste it. I sit with a woman and we get chatting as she has this huge folder in front of her. She shows me this photo and asks me if I know what abortion is and I’m shocked because I thought she asked me if I had ever had one! We discuss this taboo topic but it’s not something I want to dive into. Thankfully it’s time for me to leave and I don’t have to discuss the taboo anymore. So I get the bus back to Knoxville and then Nashville. I’m too scared to sleep again but me being be I start talking to people on my bus-Esperanza and Steven. At this moment I’m ten minutes off an anxiety attack- we thought the driver said door 8 but he said A so there’s me drawing the figure 8 at the staff thinking they can’t understand saying “8- the number that comes after 7!!” I wolf another meal and my stomach increases in pain. I don’t know if I need to be sick or go to the restroom- there’s potential for both as this point! Steven buys be medicine and I try to calm down and they also check up on me frequently. Some guy whose name I can’t remember sits next to me (Dylan?) is half talking to himself and sometimes me, which is annoying ‘because I’m in pain. I have my iPod on and am clearly not in the mood for chit chat. He keeps looking at me and smiling so I worry he thinks I’m ignoring him so I ask him what he’s looking at and he says “nothing just smiling at ya.” I feel uncomfortable. He’s also asking me personal questions like my love life and invading my space by not keeping to his side. He’s also annoying all the other passengers with his incessant chatter. He asks to hug me which I awkwardly allow and then he insists on a selfie which is too far but I again allow knowing I’ll later delete it. I worry he might try and kiss me. It’s bad enough he’s interrupted Daughtry on my iPod! He says he “loves me” at the end of the journey and when I say nothing he says “aren’t you going to say love you too?” To which I say “no because I’m English and we don’t do awkward things like that with people we’ve just met and that’s a big concept you’ve just dropped there.” He eventually leaves and I joke about the whole thing with my new friends. Esperanza thought I knew why he sat next to me- I honestly just thought it was the only spare seat! Anyway I swap contact details with Steven and Esperanza and I spend the night at Nashville bus station. I watch the same murder documentaries twice- you can imagine how safe I feel at this moment (sarcasm). I catch snippets of sleep and my stomach feels a lot better with time.
I’m up pretty early since I haven’t had much sleep so I decide to get changed and wash at 6.30am and get some breakfast. I’m killing time until the bus comes by talking to a security guard about the weather (typical Brit) and travels whilst taking FULL advantage of the free Wi-Fi and finally getting my bus to Bowling Green, Kentucky. I’m back on schedule now thank goodness! Seems like I’ve picked the middle of nowhere again so I get the guy to ring me a taxi so that I can go to the mall. The annoying thing about the buses is that trips take longer due to layovers and ridiculous stops. I’ve learned my lesson to just stick with flights when it comes to these kind of distances!! Airports are also much safer to sleep in. It’s actually a very good mall I buy more leggings- can you really have too many? And a new holister polo. I get my hair cut too and washed because it’s so overdue. Not the best job in the world but I’ll get it done again before my birthday! I have dinner at McDonald’s and use their wifi because the bus station doesn’t have any. I hear one guy talk about parole on the bus station and after some small talk it turns out everyone in the room is an ex-convict. I’m not scared, I’ve met convicts before etc. They joke that I’m “really in the South now.” One guy, admittedly quite cute, had just finished a six year sentence today for drug possession and carrying a pistol or something. I joked and said “well happy new year to you then” and it gets a few laughs. One guy, Trent says he reckons he will see me on TV one day, I’ve got the face for it (another line I’ve heard before in the UK) and again I joke “yeah maybe-when I’ve got make up on!” He guesses my age correctly and nicknames me “genius.” I haven’t swapped contact details with these people, for obvious reasons and they’re all considerably older than me. Definitely a trip of experiences and character building for sure! I eventually end up in Little Rock, Arkansas at 5.30am.
I managed to sleep on both buses but I’m genuinely in pain because I’m so tired and one rule I made for myself was not to walk around anywhere by myself when it’s dark. Hence I use my rucksack as a pillow and sleep for 2 hours, and head to McDonald’s around 8am. One thing I’m aware of in every place I have been to is that I get stared at a lot -as if I was some sort of zoo animal. It’s uncomfortable in an annoying kind of way- especially when I haven’t even spoke yet! It’s not because I’m “beautiful” because I have very dark circles under my eyes, no make-up on and I am in bad need of a facial waxing. I don’t understand this “fascination” with me but I just get on with my day in every place I’ve been to. I head downtown to the Ardent art district and walk around and take photos. It’s very quiet and deserted. I kill time by walking around and seeing as much as I can on foot. I then head towards the Capitol building, take photos and sit around for a while before heading towards a different McDonald’s for lunch. I’ve got a sore throat today and my head is booming from a serious lack of sleep. I’ve been dreaming of taking a shower and a black out sleep all day.
I’ve also been thinking today how much I’ve become to despise the male species. If I’ve rejected you, I jolly well meant it! There’s always some hidden agenda and this is another reason why I have very few male friends; added to the fact I find girls a lot easier to talk to. I hate the fact that some guys hang around in the “friend zone” thinking one day I’m going to wake up and fall for them. NO. NO. NO. If it should have it would have. One thing I’ve learned in life is to also never let people help you out in a way you can’t return the favour. People like to put themselves on a pedestal and remind you of that one time they helped you. Totally not the idea of a good deed. I told one guy that I was a lesbian and he responds with “I knew that anyway.” No buddy, you didn’t. Not that my sexuality needs justifying to anyone in the first place. Buddy you’re just embarrassed. You’ve got as much chance of leaving the friend zone as you have going scuba diving without an oxygen tank. I don’t need to “let someone in” etc- I’m not into you at all and time isn’t going to change that; like EVER. That’s the last straw for me, I’m so through with “the game” and second guessing everything and everyone. I just think “oh ‘ere we go” when the lines come rolling in. This isn’t high school, I’m no fool and you can shut up NOW. Don’t waste my breath and don’t waste your time. Seems legit.
After lunch I walk to the Old State House museum and its here I meet Avery the security guard. He’s never met anyone from England before and asks to shake my hand. He doesn’t like the idea of me walking around on my own and then he offers me a ride at 5pm. My legs are so tired I accept. I talk a while with the museum staff whilst I wait for Avery and one girl tells me she’s heard of Leicester because her boyfriend makes cheese for a living and Red Leicester is great. Why I say thank you I don’t know- I’m too tired to comprehend. I’ve got a lot of time to kill before my bus so Avery insists on buying me a large meal at Wendy’s. Recently I’ve just been acting 100% true to myself with little regard to what people think about be behind my back and I’m still making people laugh so it can’t be that bad. Avery laughs at my little stories and sarcastic comments. He says he will take me around the City at night so I manage to take some nice photos of the Capitol building, library and various bridges. To be honest putting lights on anything makes it look pretty. Avery is conscious of the fact I’ve had so little sleep. He thinks I’m a very bold person travelling on a bus to here, there and everywhere. He takes me to his house to meet his wife Barbara and they’re both so kind it’s overwhelming. They let me have a 5 hour nap in their spare room in a king size bed. My goodness it feels so good to lie down with a pillow and mattress. Barbara has made me a packed lunch for my journey back home which I’m very grateful for and I give them the address for my blog. Avery drops me off and we say our goodbyes before I get on my bus.
I’ve really missed human company in ways I didn’t think I would. Granted I talk to friends in a daily basis via my phone albeit text or Facebook but it’s not the same. Most of my friends have returned now to Hattiesburg which is great because a college town is so boring without the students! Also I’ll finally be living with Jana and the apartment won’t feel so empty. But I’m definitely over the game. All teams, benches, and divisions- I’m not interested anymore.