I’ve got two pairs of shoes with me here in the United States. A pair of Nike Air Terra Humaras, and a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths that I bought a few weeks ago in Portland. A couple of days ago, I put the Nikes in the washing machine. Yesterday, they were still drying on the window sill, so when I decided to go into town I had to wear the Stan Smiths. I’ve only worn them a deformed handful of times and, as often seems to happen with Adidas trainers, they’re taking a while to break in. But, I had my plan, I wouldn’t be walking much, so it didn’t matter. Take the bus downtown, hop on another bus out to the mall, same journey back home: easy. What I wanted was a cafetière. Since we moved into the house, we’ve had no means of making coffee at home; so every morning I have to make the half-hour round trip to the local store to get one of their crappily-made cappuccinos. Plus, the wife works at the weekend, so I thought it’d be nice to get one so we didn’t have to go through the same rigmarole this morning.
One thing to note: I would much rather have bought a cafetière downtown. If ever I can buy something there, I try to do so, but the only shop that sells any kitcheny stuff is one of those over-priced places that sells “modern” stuff that’s mostly very ugly. Once I got to the mall, it was surprisingly difficult to find a cafetière. I went in all of the big stores that might’ve had it – Macy’s, Target, J.C. Penney, Sears. No luck. So, I bought a DVD (Wonder Showzen season 2) and a cap (Colorado Rockies) and, on my way out, saw one of those ugly little shops crammed with crap. They had one. I bought it, and went out to the bus stop. A bus was just leaving. A few minutes early by my watch. So, I sparked up a fag, and waited for the next one. On the next bus, a thought entered my head: what time does the last bus to Sudden Valley leave the downtown station? I think it’s 6.40pm, but it’s a Saturday, so it might be 5.40pm.
It was 5.40pm. And the bus from the mall got to the station at 5.45pm. Fuck. At this point, it’s worth pointing out how fucking ridiculous it is that the buses stop at 6.40pm, or 5.40pm on a Saturday. They don’t even run on a Sunday. Good job, Bellingham, you fuckwits. That’s really gonna help cut down on people driving home after one too many beers, isn’t it?
So, anyway. It’s eight and a half miles from the station to my front door. Thankfully, a quick look around the bus station, and I found one last bus that was heading part of the way. It took me two and a half miles along my route before turning off. I’d always felt like it was only about four miles total into town, so I was a little shocked when I checked on Google Maps this morning.
You know how your dad or someone always has a go-to joke or phrase for something? Well over the past year mine has become, “At least, it’s something to blog about.” After walking a few hundred yards in the wrong direction to go and get some Tarantula Piss and Ritz crackers from the petrol station, I took a photo of my Stan Smiths, pressed the stopwatch on, and set off; and one of my first tasks was to ford the mighty Hanna Creek. It wasn’t that tough, really; there’s a road bridge over it.
About fifteen minutes in was when my feet first start to hurt. I re-tied my shoelaces to stop them shifting around so much. After a little while longer I began to realise how little I pay attention to the journey when I’m in a car. There’s whole chunks of road which I do not recognise. I eventually hit a long downhill stretch – about a third of a mile – and my feet really started to hurt as the downhill walking scrunched my toes up in the front and the stiff leather bridge bit of the trainers really digs in. I tried to distract myself by waiting for gaps in the traffic and throwing one cent coins onto the road at a 45° angle and seeing if they would roll and hit the curb on the other side. The closest I got was one that made it all the way across only to fall down a drain just inches from the curb.
“The Outdoor Type” by the Lemonheads shuffled up on my iPod. Seemed quite apt as I hobbled along the road that skirts Lake Whatcom. At the start of my trip, I thought about getting a cab home. But I decided against spending the thirty dollars. Thirty dollars I’d happily have spent forty-five minutes in when I felt a couple of blisters appearing. I passed a parked Ford pickup truck. For Sale, $1500 ono. Now would be the right time to own a Ford pickup.
Still lots of houses along the edge of the lake, so I know I’ve still got the majority of my journey ahead of me. Still, it was nice to get a close-up, lingering look at the lakefront cabin that I would love to own. So simple, so pretty… so much closer to town if I miss the bus.
It amazes me that, in this day and age, people still throw rubbish out of their car windows. There were so many McDonald’s bags, cartons, cups, etc. along the verge of this country road. And it also amazes me at how few people observe the speed limit, and – most annoyingly – how many people still use their cell phones whilst driving. Walking along the pavement-less road at dusk, seeing these cunts using their phones only heightened the thoughts of Stephen King’s accident that were floating around my head.
A car that looked very much like my friend Lisa’s car pulled up about fifty yards in front of me. For a moment, I thought my luck was in, then the car did a three point turn in the road and sped off back into town. An hour or so in, and I was glad I bought the drink and crackers. Car after car drove past me. I started putting on an exaggerated limp. The blisters were making me walk a bit funny, but I started playing it up when I heard cars coming behind me. For a nation that claims to be full of Christians, not one of the fuckers stopped to help an invalid.
It sounds too much like something that would happen in a film, but it happened. I paused for a moment to light a cigarette. Just as I did that, a drop of rain hit the end of the cigarette turning the white paper grey. And just as that happened, the lovely Pet Shop Boys song “Home and Dry” came on my iPod. I wasn’t at home, and with the rain starting to fall, I’d not be dry either.
A guy scampered out of his house, head tucked into his shoulders, face scrunched up, shielding himself from the rain. He flashed me a smile, raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Rain, eh?” I grabbed a nearby rock and smashed his stupid car-owning head in. On and on and fucking on. Does this bloody road never end? Dead squirrel. Patroitic house number. And a road sign with a deer on it that, every time I pass it, brings a chuckle as I imagine drawing an erect penis on it.
As I get closer, to a point where I know that my journey will be over in the near future, I think about the coffee, the cafetière, and… oh for fuck’s sake: I forgot to buy milk. My feet by now, a good hour and three-quarters in, are just a numb throb
. I know what you’re thinking, “Craig, this very much sounds like your own personal “Touching the Void,” perhaps even MORE difficult!” And you’d be right about that. In for a penny, I take the extra twenty minute detour to get some milk from the shop.
“How’s your day?” says Chirpy McFucknuts at the store. I seethe out a “I’ve had better,” pay for the milk and the six pack of Rolling Rock, and crack open a beer for the final leg. Two and a half beers later, I’m trudging up the steps, key in hand, soaked to the skin.
Two hours, twenty-one minutes, and twenty seconds after I’d started walking. A fifteen minute bus journey. Oh, how I hate you, Whatcom Transportation Authority.
I opened the door and there was Ghostface, running towards me, pausing for a moment to allow herself to be stroked, then dispassionately staring at me like, “Right then, human, where’s my food?”
I kicked off my shoes, got out of my wet clothes, fed the cat, then rewarded myself with a hot dog. We had some sausages and buns left over from our midweek barbecue. It was a good hot dog, and a pretty one too.
This morning, we woke up knowing we had coffee, milk, and a cafetière. I’m sad to report that the coffee was shit; as a great poet once said, “Coffee… looks like they scrape it off the bottom of the Mississippi River.”