It's that time of year again, thank god. I couldn't spend another month here without a break to see my family and friends. It gets so lonely here with everyone so far away. But luckily Christmas is coming up and I get two weeks off. I'm gonna take the bus out to Boston and catch the train from there to Providence and home sweet home. I have been working up here on a farm in Vermont trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I always wanted to be in a band and travel the world spreading my message. I don't really have a message, but I figured I could make something up. Once your big people will make up theories about your lyrics and build you up to be a god, even if your pulling every word out of your ass. I've tried to get bands together here but people never agree on anything. One guy wants to play funky and another wants to play crude and another wants to play pop and nothing ever sounds right. Music is the only art that depends on communication, and I was never good with communication. I had to write everything alone or else it wasn't right. I thought I had a lot to offer the pretentious world of artists. I thought I was clever enough to bullshit my way through it, but getting anybody to play what you tell them is hard. I thought maybe I could be a painter. It's something I could do alone and never have to compromise with anyone else's vision. Unfortunately, I have only made one painting I thought was worth anything and every time I tried after that I can't satisfy myself. It always gets out of hand and ends up looking like a frustrated mess or an unenthusiastic junior high art project. I thought if I came out here to the mountains I could find myself, but nothing yet. I guess I expected some enlightening experience to radically change my life forever but it never came. I just stare out at the stars at night and feel like I'm missing the point. I do have moments of temporary enlightenment, or at least thats how it feels, but that only comes with a bottle and ends with a headache.
The next morning I met one of the other farmhands Dave for breakfast in a diner across the street from where I would catch my bus to Boston. It was a nice little tin can place with goofy hipster waiters; all students of the university up the road. I never liked hipsters or artists, they always seemed pretentious like they thought they were the messiah sent to change the world by telling us the president is racist and the war is a conspiracy. They never could quite understand how simple our government really was and how all the corruption is right under our noses, not cooked up behind some secret curtain. I liked the simple mountain locals much more than these assholes, but I was somewhat one of these asshole if I really analyzed it. I wanted to be an artist but I hated the idea of being one. I hated the snobby "know-it-all" attitude and the pencil mustaches. Dave walked in five minutes after I did and sat down across from me.
"Are you excited, I never been as far as one state away from here my whole life."
"Well Rhode Island ain't that far, its practically Massachusetts anyhow."
"Really? I thought it was somewhere near Pennsylvania."
"No no its only 4 hours from where we're sitting."
"Oh, well still... Hey what time is that bus coming?"
"Nine o'clock, I got another hour."
We sat fairly quietly when the food came and ate without taking our eyes off our plates. I ordered a simple breakfast of eggs, toast, home fries, bacon, and coffee. Dave, on the other hand, ordered a steak to go with his eggs, which I thought was too much for any stomach this early in the morning. He shoveled it down without a problem and the same went for me and my easy dish. I was terribly excited but I didn't show it, I never did show much emotion around people. Finally, with our plates out of the way, and only our coffees left on their third refills, Dave breaks in.
"So why are you even here?"
"You mean waiting for the bus?"
"No, I mean Vermont. Your family is in Rhode Island, so why are you in Vermont."
"Well I don't really know, I guess I thought it would be good for me."
"Has it been?"
"I don't think so... I mean maybe... No, I don't think so."
"So why don't you leave... Go back home."
"That's a good question. I guess I'm afraid if I leave now the whole thing would have been a waste and I'd be back to square one like when I graduated high school."
"But if you aren't happy... I mean staying is just wasting more time."
"Yea... I guess it is."
It came close to nine so we paid our bill and walked across the street to the bus station. Dave said he had to get off and meet the boss for some chores and left. I thought about what we talked about, but soon I concluded that if I went back home I would get bored like I was here and find myself asking the same questions about whether I should find somewhere else to go. This didn't bother me long and my mind went back to thinking about all the fun I will have with my brother and friends. We used to go down to the pond and swim all day and drink beers at night and sometimes light a camp fire out in the woods. I couldn't wait to get there. Just then the bus pulls up and everyone started boarding and I was nearly last to get on, but I didn't care, I figured either way we would get there the same time. I got on and pushed as far to the back as I could and found a seat with a pretty young girl. She said her name was Janice, and was going home to Boston to be with family.
"Oh really? I'm going home too." I said,
"You live in Boston?"
"No, Rhode Island. I have to take the train from Boston to Providence. It's a pain not being able to find a bus that goes straight there, but I kind of like stopping off in Boston for an hour and seeing the big city.
"It doesn't seem big if you've grown up there. I couldn't wait to get out, but Vermont is so isolated. It's hard to get used to. There is absolutely nothing to do and the whole state smells like cow dung." she said laughing.
" Oh, it ain't so bad I guess. Sure, I get lonely, but I prefer to be lonely sometimes."
"Prefer to be lonely huh?... I think I know what you mean... Sometimes I feel an unspoken beauty within, when I'm lonely... Like the feeling you get when listening to Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata'."
"Right right... that sounds pretty good... I get that feeling from Bill Evan's 'Peace Piece'." I said, hoping the conversation would migrate to music. I always loved talking about music, but I was never good at controlling a conversation.
"Who is Bill Evans?" she responded
"A jazz pianist. Do you like jazz?"
"No not really, it's kind of boring. I don't even really like Beethoven, but I heard that song in a movie once and it was a really sad scene, you know?"
I didn't know how to respond so I nodded and sat quietly. It is always disappointing when a conversation dies like that, and I didn't care to discuss movies. The rest of the bus trip was silent. I sat staring at the other passengers. A man three rows ahead of me, in a blue business suit and crew cut, was typing away at his laptop. Probably doing taxes or some important business stuff like that. I couldn't even begin to guess what a business man does. Another woman directly across from me on the left was falling asleep. Every now and then her head would slowly drop down and as soon as her chin would touch her chest she was up again.
I started daydreaming about Janice and I living together in Vermont. I pictured a small comfortable log cabin somewhere up on a mountain slope, sitting by a warm fire with the falling snow flakes tapping on our window, and a porch with a view right over the valley that we would hike down and visit the cafe for lunch. I had a tendency to fall in love with every girl that I met, or at least daydream of loving them. The dreams rarely had anything to do with the girls specifically, but it was always about that cabin in the mountains. I thought about being a painter and spending my days at the canvas while Janice read books on a chair next to me. I would send paintings to galleries all over the world; Hong Kong, New York City, Paris. I would keep all my favorites and hang them around the cabin walls. I would go hunting on the weekends, right out in the woods, and sit for hours in the snow all covered up in gear and just enjoying the wilderness. Suddenly I was an old man with most of my life behind me and all I had to do was sit on the porch drinking hot coffee in the snow. I started to analyze the daydream and decided maybe it wasn't the girl I wanted, so much as the cabin on the mountain. Maybe the girls in my daydreams were only to make the cabin more enjoyable, just knowing I wasn't alone up there. I could have put any face on the girl at this point, as long as the cabin was mine and I didn't have to spend my days there inside my own lonely head.
I gave up my thoughts about the cabin and went back to thinking about Janice. I decided she was fine enough, even if our earlier conversation wasn't very successful. I thought I should ask her to be my girlfriend since we were both living in Vermont and lonely. I never knew quite how to build into the question so I always jumped into it clumsily and cutting through the bullshit. I got a little nervous, leaned over , and said,
"Hey... When are you gonna be back in Vermont?"
"Two weeks on Friday."
"Oh... I get back two weeks on Saturday."
"Well thats two weeks and a day." she said sarcastically. Her sarcasm made me even more nervous.
"Uhm... I was wondering if when you get back... you... maybe you wanna hang out?"
"Hang out?" she said kind of chuckling
"Yea... Or, I mean get something to eat... and... you know... hang out, I guess."
"No not really... I mean I'm taken."
I leaned back in my chair and we didn't say anything more to each other until Boston. I didn't care much that she said no, but I couldn't stop thinking about that cabin, and the snowy air suddenly being filled with lonely self-loathing thoughts that just spoil the whole atmosphere across the mountains. I didn't care specifically for Janice, but I always assumed that even if I was in my dream home, being alone would find a way to bring the dark side out and just turn the whole thing sour.
When we arrived in Boston I said good bye to Janice, she only smiled without saying anything, so I turned and followed the crowd off the bus. I stepped onto the street feeling like I had lived a lifetime in my head, during the trip. I started thinking that our whole lives might just be as real as our imagination. Like I really became a painter, and me and whats-her-name got married, and I lived to be an old man in the cabin of my dreams. Oh and with the woman of my dreams too, but we got divorced just now and...
"HEY!!! LITTLE MAN!!!" a voice came loudly, snapping me out of it. It was my brother, he pulled up along the curb near the bus stop. Two of our old school friend were in the back seat. "I thought I'd surprise you in Boston... We can spend the day here, get something to eat later, then head back home." I jumped right in the car with a big smile on my face and we were off.