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Somewhere between Ithaca and New York City we stop, one of many buses at the Arby's/Exxon convenience store. It's cold out, and the bus has a strange people smell that isn't comforting or pleasant or anything else that I'd like it to be. As I chew my newly bought red swedish fish, I suddenly become aware of the cinnamon apple sauce and granola bars that my girlfriend had sent with me for the ride. It was one of those things where she knew I'd stupidly suffer and not eat for the eleven hours it takes to get from Ithaca back to DC.
She cares about me more than anyone I've ever known who isn't directly related to me. She sees through my lies, she holds me, not always literally when I have bouts with self-doubt and self-pity, and she knew I'd get hungry as I watch the world go by for the next ½ day at 55 mph, even making sure I had a plastic spoon before I left.
Only a month until this is all over, until we meet for lunch during the day, then spend the nighttime skating empty parking lots or watching for shooting stars in the field next to the elementary school or sitting off to the side at the sweaty local punk shows taking it all in. But now, I'm expected to work harder than I have all year, when I feel most unmotivated to do anything with school. I remember in high school, when I was in marching band, I used to count the days until it would be over, until I could have my life back and stop being a person that I wasn't.
For the past two days, all my worries had gone away. I had slept next to her, and we'd walked through the streets of Ithaca, with no real direction, and no need to do anything but be together. We'd talk about philosophy, laugh about the beginnings of our relationship, and make wonderful plans for the coming summer. She takes my selfishness, and my insecurity, and beautifully massages my ego when I need it most. Now I go back to school, where lots of work and not much else waits for me. It's hard not to be sad on a bus ride, not that I cry out of obligation to that, but sitting in a dark bus, surrounded by the silence of many people, with nighttime outside, I can't help but feel alone. As we approach the city, I know it'll be the same as it ever was, but I still hope for something else.