A Teaspoon and an Open Mind

Trip Start Jan 05, 2011
Trip End Jan 05, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Monday, October 18, 2010

In the interest of getting into the travel mood (given that I'm planning on hitting the road in just 76 days) I decided, a few days ago, that I would consider Hampshire College the first step on my great traveling adventure. Instead of sitting at home checking to see if I’ve gotten any new hits on my blog, and listlessly reading Malay bus schedules and Lonely Planet Guidebooks I would instead go out into the world (and what a chilly world it is).

This new spin on my time here has already resulted in a series of adventures. I just hope my year away produces as frequent and interesting ones.

Today, being the day when three such travely incidents occurred, I shall attempt to relate to you.

I woke up at about noon, since I had been up till 3AM working on characters for a new novel, I felt good about sleeping in.

After breakfast and my growing collection of nutritional supplements, I lazed about for a while catching up on the news and some blogs I follow. I then summoned the courage to change out of my PJs and into a sundress, adding thick tights for good measure given the frigid wind outside, added some makeup, did nothing with my hair because nothing can be done to it at this point, and, dawning the warmest jacket I could find, left the house.

Living right across form the bus stop, I usually don’t worry about missing the bus when I get there ten minutes early, but, this time, as if to spite me for assuming that the PVTA is always either on time or late, it was eleven minutes early. I ran to the stop furiously waving my arms and shouting, but to no avail (later I postulated that there is one bus driver who just doesn’t like me, because I have done this three times in as many days, and that just isn’t right. On a side not, all the other times I have waited for the bus, it has arrived so late that I was on the phone calling to make sure it wasn’t in a ditch somewhere with the passengers dying of hyperthermia when it finally would pull up). I huffed and puffed for a minute, then thought 'Allegra, it’s just a bus, you’ll probably miss hundreds while away, snap out of it’ so I did. I put on some Glee music on my trusty iPod Touch, checked my mail on it, then crossed the street and waited for the bus going the other way. It would loop around and I would rather be on the warm bus than the freezing metal bench.

The bus came, at least close to on time, I got on it, and, since it was close to empty, spread out and pulled my notebook from my pack, intending on doing some more character work.

A few stops later a young man steps onto the bus, I’ll call him UmassBoy for the sake of anonymity. Since we were sitting across from each other our glances met a few times. I’ll admit, he was cute, at least he was more interesting than staring at a blank page, which was all the progress I had made.

When we got off the bus, I noticed he was looking a little confused, and caught my eye again, but I had to get to Health Services to pick up a prescription before it closed, so I packed my notebook back up and set off down the hill. Glancing back over my shoulder I noticed he was heading in the same direction. I wasn’t getting any bad vibes, and we were getting close to admissions, so I slowed down and commented on the beautiful, if chilly, autumn day. UmassBoy agreed and explained that he had gotten onto the wrong bus 9he was trying to get to Umass), he also said that since he was here, he might as well have an adventure.

Well, you know me, or at least, if you don’t, you probably can guess that I rather like adventures. So I asked him what he was planning. "I’m going to walk to Umass." He said.

“I’m game.” I replied.

We stopped briefly at Health Services for me to pick up my package, then set off across the green to the farm. We talked casually about Hampshire’s horrible architecture, our respective majors (or lack thereof in my case, they’re called Divisions at Hampshire and mean absolutely nothing). We chatted for a while about Europe (his family originated in Provance) and about the atrocity of Americans being monolingual. We got to talking about linguistics before we actually exchanged names.

After an in depth discussion of women’s fashion and how it’s pointless and painful and even a bit of politics, we finally arrived in Amherst an hour after we set off. We stopped for tea and were joined by one of his friends. A heated discussion about genre fiction ensued, and a mild bashing of Dickens. We then all shook hands, parted ways with a vague promise of adding each other on Facebook. UmassBoy went on to Umass, I went to dinner.

After pondering my options for a while, I chose a tiny little Thai restaurant down a very sketchy alley. There were only two patrons, but it smelled good and they new about cooking Gluten Free, so I sat down and ordered a bowl of soup, papaya salad and Pad Thai. That kind of a meal will last me for days, therefore a good investment.

Just before my food arrived, a woman who looked to be in her thirties walked in and asked for a table for one. Before the hostess could answer I called over ‘If you feel like company you’re welcome to join me.’ Or something to that effect.

She smiled and sat down across with me. We started talking, discussed a series of interesting subjects, talked about my upcoming trip and her family, exchanged a few recipes and of course, we ate. The food was pretty good. I especially enjoyed the Pad Thai, it wasn’t nearly as sweet or heavy as it is at all the other Thai restaurants in the area, although it still doesn’t live up to Viraporn’s (if you live in Mendocino you know). At the end of our meal, w both paid our respective bills, I gave her the address to my blog (if you’re reading this, it was truly a pleasure to share a meal with you), and parted ways.

That made two total strangers with whom I shared a meaningful connection and will probably never see again. Ah the joys of Travel.

In conclusion, today I have learned that you don’t have to go very far to travel, you can do it without a plane ticket or an itinerary, all you really need is, in the words of the Doctor, ‘a teaspoon and an open mind.’ (the teaspoon will make the delicious soup last longer! You can also mix your tea with it, fancy that, and if you find yourself having to entertain a small child, you can make it stick you your nose. In fact, I would say that a teaspoon almost rivals a towel in its many many uses to the skilful traveler)
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