A note to scientists of the world: you all need to have a conference and figure out this whole "teleportation" business. I know there are risks, (I have seen "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," though being shrunk down to miniature might not be such a bad deal right now), but getting from Point A to Point B is about 500 times more difficult than it needs to be, considering that it is 2009 and the Jetsons promised me flying cars, like, 8 years ago.
I hate traveling. Poor hip flexion + legs the length of Highway 61 = complete, utter and total inability to get through an airplane/train/bus ride unscathed. (The fact that Champaign-Urbana is not exactly a great transportation hub does not help). When the person in front of me puts their seat back into my knees, I am filled with the rage of small animals. I once bought an NFL player from the New Orleans Saints a drink in exchange for the aisle seat (and then spent 3 hours talking about Noam Chomsky with him, which is another story). My feet get run over by drink carts, my spine contorts itself into alignments seen only on Cirque Du Soliel, and my hip gives me its two-week notice and begins handing out resumes.
Usually, the biggest source of travel-related ridiculousness is a certain local bus company that shall remain nameless. The last time I rode with this company, I wound up in a tiny van that seemed to be held together by dental floss and the chewed-up gum the driver let overflow out of the ashtray, squished next to one of the largest men I've ever seen (like "cyst on the pituitary gland" large), while the driver's tumor-faced dog named Bun Bun, who was lounging in his own seat even though one other passenger didn't have a seatbelt, snapped and growled at anyone who moved a fraction of an inch. Every thirty minutes, the driver got out to let Bun Bun "do his business" and as the van pulled into Champaign at 3:30 in the morning with Bun Bun snoring his tiny, tumor-encrusted face off, I vowed never to ride with this particular company again for the rest of my life, so help me God.
Which lasted 8 months. Alas, my vow was broken by a combination of poor planning and difficult train schedules. I was expecting divinr punishment for having broken so solemn of an oath, especially considering that I have also broken my "no blogging because I will become so self-obsessed that no one will be able to stand me" vow as well.
Happily, lightning did not strike me down. Instead: a miracle. I guess the Gods of Arthroplastic Surgery won a battle against the Gods of Travel Inconveniences and granted me the greatest gift of all: a trip that did not claw my sanity into ragged shreds. Though there were only two passengers, they'd sent a bus instead of a van and that bus was driven by a grad student (instead of, say, a woman who belonged on the hit series 'I'm Obsessed With My Pet'). I spent three hours (we were early!) taking up all the room I could and chatting with the bus driver and the other passenger. The conversation did not even involve an animated discussion on a) whether or not I am Australian, since I have "one of those accents," b) what is wrong with America today and why Mexicans are to blame or c) how the best way to end the Iraq war is to knock it down with bulldozers, kill all them Muslims and fill the place with Americans. (These are all conversations I've had with bus drivers over the years).
To top it off, we stopped at a cool hot-dog stand in Chicago and I got a polish sausage with delicious onions. Any journey that involves polish sausage is a journey I can get behind. I felt like Tiny Tim getting his Christmas goose. Or someone getting their name called on "The Price is Right." It was an August miracle.
Alas, the plane ride was not nearly so smooth (because Air Canada was involved), but the glow of my excellent bus ride remains. I feel as if I should have some sage advice about traveling post-hip replacement, but it seems to me that traveling is more about luck than anything else. I do, however, recommend buying drinks in exchange for aisle seats. And maybe some Valium. (My apologies to those of you looking for actual advice about hip replacements. Apparently, my blog is not really "the twentysomething's guide to rocking the hip replacement" but "a twentysomething's guide to listening to Arley examine her life in explicit detail, some of which involves having a hip replacement.")