There are very few things scarier than waking up from a falling dream. Above that is probably sleep paralysis. Although, the only time I experienced one was an interesting, but not scary encounter. It was after a long rough day and there was nothing more I wanted than to sleep. I may have worked a double (which are about 14 hours straight no break) and had to deal with relationship issues I was having at the time. After one of those days, sleep becomes the only bright thing in your life–a temporary coma.
After finally being allowed to sleep I remember waking up with my eyes wide open and feeling this strange pressure on my chest. I looked around and my room was different. I couldn’t quite figure it out at first. It something about it seemed dark and grim. The next thing I knew surrounding me was all this wooden haunted house styled furniture twisted and warped as if it had ingested LSD. But I couldn’t have been asleep for more than 20 minutes or at least that’s what it felt like.
I’ve played around with lucid dreaming before so I knew enough that this was just a dream and that it would pass. Looking back on it now I can’t help but laugh at the thought that crossed my mind. I simply said to myself “I am not dealing with this right now” and I went straight to sleep as if what was going on was a common occurrence. It wasn’t until the next morning after I overcame my bad assery and realized that when I had tried to pull the covers over my head and turn over I wasn’t able to that I actually had my first sleep paralysis experience. Thankfully that had been my only ones which was pretty boring compared to some friends experiences. However, ranked just below this at a solid third, is being woken up from a loud noise.
After finally getting home around 7 am from Stonehenge I managed to bring my shell of a human being into bed with enough common sense to do a few things. Strip down to nothing but boxers, check the time, and set an alarm. Although I knew that I had been warned about the hostels own alarm system I just wanted to play it safe.
My alarm was set for ten minutes to ten figuring it would give me enough time to collect myself before having to head out and pack up my things. For some reason whenever I have limited amount of sleep and a set time to be up at I always wake up earlier than I need be. This is a doubled edge sword. Yes, I am up in time for whatever I needed to do, but in no way shape or form have I had enough sleep. By the time I woke up I was probably about two and a half hours into my sleep. I was so tired, groggy, and angry at the world that I went out of my way to turn my alarm off before it even went off and went back to sleep.
After what felt like seconds passing, it happened. The loudest fire alarm siren to ever cross the earth erupted at an ear piercing level. When a sleep that is deep enough for you to dream vividly within seconds of passing out gets interrupted by an even more alarming sound, reality take a second or two to hit. I really had never felt so fearful in my entire life. Within seconds my wide-eyed half hallucinating self had to register a few things.
- what the hell is that noise?
- where the hell am I?
- what am I supposed to be doing?
As soon as the alarm sound stopped it all came back to me. I was in the UK, on the bottom bunk of a god forsaken establishment that must find it amusing to scare its guests half to death. There is no other reasonable excuse to do this to any individual on a Sunday morning.
Eventually I made my way out of the room with all of my stuff and headed for the main lobby. Here I found that the office door was locked and that there was no way to check out. Not even caring I decided to head into the common room where I found my buddies Alex and Travis. They were laying on the couches just as shell-shocked and sleep deprived as me. After a few more minutes my senses came fully back and I was able to find the slot where I had to drop off the keys to my room and that was considered to be enough to check out.
From this point I had to figure out how to kill the next three or four hours before my train. No better idea then to sleep it off! Of course going back to sleep after being up and at it isn’t the easiest thing but I eventually drifted off in the fetal position on the nearest free couch.
After waking up from a wonderful power nap I say goodbye to everyone and headed back into the town to walk about a mile to the station. This was going to be an extremely long day. Not only am I on a few hours of broken sleep, I have to take a three-hour train back into London, then make my way to the bus station where I have to wait for my Megabus to Brussels.
By the time I reached the bus station I had more than enough time to kill. About 5 hours. At this point I am struggling to stay awake and I knew that there will be nothing better than sleeping through this 9 hour bus ride. The only trick to doing that is to not fall asleep even for a minute beforehand, that way I can put myself into a nice relaxing coma. I decided to head to the nearest convenience stand and stock up on a sandwich and a caramel white chocolate cookie. Something I wish I knew about all of my life! These two things gave me enough energy to make it till check in time.
Of course this was no easy process as it should have been. I mean the bus is only costing me €15 to take one of the strangest bus rides of my life. Not only am I traveling through three countries I am taking a bus which parks onto a ferry, something I didn’t even know was a thing, then it drives through France to eventually make its way to into Belgium stopping in Brussels. I thought anything this crazy and that cheap can not have any structure, and I was right.
After waiting on the wrong line and realizing it half way through I had to step onto the now long line. I had easily been the first person here for this bus and I wouldn’t even be close to being the first person to get on it. Wonderful. Once that was through I was able to find the line to that lead to the bus. Out of no there was an announcement. “There has been a gate change for all passengers heading to Brussels. Please make your way towards gate number 8 at your earliest convience”. This statement was so low that most of us didn’t even hear it. The only clue I got that something was happening was the rapid wave of hands picking up their bags and moving across the room to an entirely new gate.
After waiting on this line for about 10 minutes another passenger and I started talking about how we had no idea what was going on. The gate we were waiting on did not say Brussels on its stopping list but the line we were at previously still did. We decided that everyone else must be wrong and worst case scenario that we should follow the sign because that will be our safety if all else fails. We get back on that line which only had a few late stragglers who knew nonetheless of the confusion they had dodged.
Now I was within the first 10 people to board the bus. Just as we are about to go through the gate to board the bus half of our line gets stopped and are told to move back inside. Not sure if it was because we were coming out of the wrong gate or what the reason could possibly be. At this point the amount of options are endless. It turns out he just didn’t want us to get ran over by an incoming bus. I instantly felt bad for all the things I was thinking about this man and his incompetent job skills.
It was about 9 pm as I finally made my way to the driver and we made the expected exchange. I handed him my ticket and bag and he points me in the direction to board the bus. My first reaction is to get to the front of the bus where I know there is a charger. I find out that there are two of the front four seats available–one to the left and one to the right.
It was pretty easy decision to make that I was going to choose the one on the left. The option to my right was next to an interesting fellow. I really don’t think words will ever be able to describe what this individual was thinking. He was a fairly tall older man, probably around 60. This is about that age where the stomach turns from a normal muffin top shape to a round Santa Claus belly. I never understood why this happened but I had seen it enough to not be vexed. It was what was going on below here that puzzled me.
This man was wearing jean shorts shorter than anything I could have ever wanted to imagine let alone see before my eyes. It was to the point where the pockets were about twice the length of the jeans themselves and which revealed every single hair from his upper thigh to his ankle. It was one of things you didn’t want to see but just couldn’t look away from in sheer shock.
Now as if this wasn’t enough the had on an old pair of Timberlands and white socks that were about two inches higher than they needed to be. It was like Paul Bunyan had a slightly autistic looking child who liked to dabble in cross dressing. Clearly this wasn’t my idea bus buddy.
I take my seat and just as I am about to get comfortable, my soon to be bus buddy was just arriving back to her seat. The first thing that came to my mind was, YES, what step up from Mr. Booty Shorts over there. Although I was too tired to even consider striking up conversation I certainly didn’t mind being next to a pretty face.
By this point the bus was still off and all of my electronics were plugged in. I desperately needed my phone charged it was less than half way and I still had another 9 hour bus ride to get through. Meanwhile the girl next to me was attempting to plug in her phone and she struck up a conversation. I’m assuming it was about the charger and if it was working or not but I was to tired and delirious to really remember. I just wanted to do two things. Charge my phone and go to sleep. But being the talkative person I am continued the conversation with pleasure. It was not too often I had such an easy ice breaker.
She was not from any english speaking country I knew that straight off the bat. I couldn’t really figure out what her accent was, but either way I was enjoying it. There is something about accents that really gets to me. I always joked around with my friends that my dream girl be some adventurous foreigner. As the night went on we began to talk more and more.
I found out that the only reason she was even on this bus was because she accidentally booked her flight for the following Sunday instead of this one. She had to last minute book two busses that would bring her to Germany after 15 hours of traveling. What an adventure she was about to embark on. I told her how I had done the same thing with Ryanair the month before. I accidentally booked a flight for May 18th instead of June 18th. I realized this when my phone decided to alert me a week before my flight to remember to check in online. Confused I checked my itinerary and realized how bad I had screwed up. Luckily Europe is surprisingly cheap to fly into and between. That ticket only cost me $25, so it wasn’t a real tragedy having to rebook.
After we talked for a bit longer she asked me the dreaded question. “Where do you think I’m from?” As much I love to secretly guess what and where people are from based off of my experiences serving tourists for the last year and a half I was awful at guessing correctly when put on the spot. I decided to go the safest route. She she was an attractive tan blonde haired blue-eyed girl who was taking a journey to Germany. I was 100% sure that my listening skills were about to save me. Right before I said it she said something, I didn’t quite hear it but I knew it was something along the lines of “although I’m sure you’ve already figured it out”. I confidently took my shot and told her Germany but she did nothing but laugh. Nope. I was wrong. I completely gave up and threw in the white flag. It turns out she was from Brazil but now lives in Germany doing a program similar to being an overseas nanny.
Now I am not sure I believe in love at first sight, but this was certainly as close I was going to get. Sitting next to me was a beautiful girl who grew up in Brazil, but spoke both Portuguese and German fluently while being able to hold a conversation in English. This was essentially my dream girl in the making. Of course I am not a crazy deranged creep to assume that I was actually head over heels for someone I had just met. But it was enough to make me forget about my goal of my midnight coma.
I believe love is a strange thing. I think next to anger it is one of the most powerful emotions out there. It has the power to both kill and bring life to a person. I also believe that the word is used to much that it has lost all of its meaning. I say this because growing up in a divorce is easily one of the most devastating things a child can go through. The fact that is it has become more and more the cultural norm as each decade passes makes matters worse. My parents divorce was just the same.
It started around 2001/2002 and ended around 2007 officially. I was somewhere around 3rd or 4th grade when I began to notice things were headed downhill. It was between the torn holidays and fighting all through the night that seemed as if it was never going to end. A few years after that I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. I had to choose which parent me and my brother wanted to live with. Being the “magical” age of 13 where the court of law deems one responsible enough to choose who to live with, the decision was on me. How absurd is that? I just reached the age of being able to see something as silly as a PG13 movie and here I am being forced to make a life altering decision. (I wasn’t even old enough to order a dessert without the waitress giving my parents the “is that okay look”)
To spare the details the next few years were as rough as you can imagine. In a child’s mind where time seems to both crawl and fly by at the same time it was hard to grasp what was actually happening. My brother and I were being torn between two parents who loved us entirely but despised each other. How could two people who hard spent the last decade plus together (longer then my whole life span) lose all love for each other.
I was always taught as a kid that love was something that lasted forever and there was nothing that could change that. So my first real experience at understanding love was witnessing the damage it can do. That’s probably the real reason I don’t place too much hope in love, or really open up myself to it. I don’t think there was any bigger advocate for that than my ex girlfriend. I wouldn’t even argue with her when it came to that. It was one of the few things she was right about.
The idea of love was always something I strayed from, probably because it was too romantic and mushy for me. Don’t get me wrong I can be and am romantic at times, I just don’t romanticize romance. However, I do believe that there are many different kinds of love, all of which are equal. I don’t believe that there are certain types of love that outweigh others. But there are certainly different types.
You can love someone, you can be in love someone or you can be in love with something about someone. You can love the way they look away after laughing as if they are too shy to show you their real smile. You can love the way someone puts their head on your chest and makes you feel at home no matter where you are–but these don’t mean you are in love. You can have these moments and not be in love. You can love your best friend or your family members but again you are not in love with them. You just love certain aspects of them. Another important aspect of love is that it no set time frame. This is entirely different from love lasting forever. This means that love can be a moment long or a life time and it’s still the same.
Love is a feeling you get instantaneously. It’s not something that you think about it because runs as deep as our primal instincts. This is why love hits you so hard, its deeper than anything else we experience. I really don’t believe there is a difference between spending a day, month or year getting to know someone to for you to feel love. Sometimes a moments love is just as strong as a life time love or just as important. As long as you still get that feeling it is all the same.
It took me a long time to realize this. I think that is probably one of the biggest revelations of this trip so far. Love isn’t about lasting forever and withstanding everything. Although it can be and should be, but if it doesn’t it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t love. There is just something about accepting this that makes life so much more exciting. It allows the ability to love without exception–exception is a destroyer of happiness. To expect something is to be disappointed. My mother used to say I’d rather expect nothing and be surprised than expect something and feel disappointment. There is no better way to put it in the case of love.
We talked through out the night as the sun began to set and the stars covered the sky like a blanket. minutes turned to hours as we talked about everything possible. It was really one of the most fluent conversations I’ve had with someone in a long time. Every word flowed into each sentence and each sentence intertwined perfectly into the next. There was not a single moment where the conversation felt awkward, or even the silence. When even the silence feels comforting that’s a real connection.
Not only did I find her accent to be adorable. I could really just listen to her speak for hours without becoming bored. It was even the little things I loved like her misuse of grammar. Simple things like making a word past tense instead of present or forgetting a word and feeling embarrassed until I said the word that was on the tip of her tongue. She told me it had been a while since she had spoken English and that she was a little rusty, but it thought it was perfect. Not only was I blown away by her ability to be trilingual and still feel the need to apologize for misusing or forgetting a word. She’d even mistakenly talk to me in German or Portuguese before realizing that she did so.
We talked and talked until the bus was boarded onto the ferry. I knew it was so late that I didn’t even want to look at the time. We had to have been about 5 hours into our ride and it felt like minutes had passed by. It has been a long time since I had a feeling like this. We made our way onto the ferry and wandered around trying to find an outlet for her to charge her phone.
We managed to make our way to the back of the ferry and decided to step outside. There is nothing more amazing to me than being on the water. Something about it is just peaceful. We stayed out on the stern until we were able to see the lights of England get slowly disappear as we made our way to France. We didn’t have speak too much, it was too cold and too late to say much but I enjoyed both her and the oceans presence.
Eventually we made our way back inside and found an outlet positioned perfectly near a window facing the water. We sat down and continued talking about life. Her brother younger brother was getting married in early August and she was hoping to go back to Brazil to be there for it. The only issue was being a Brazilian citizen she need a visa to even step foot in the US for a layover which was the path of the cheapest flight to Brazil. However, if she was able to go she wanted take a trip to Eastern Europe.
Ironically enough I would be in Eastern Europe around the same time, I told her I’d love to meet up with her again if her flight didn’t work out. She seemed to enjoy that which was strangely satisfying.
Although I knew this was temporary, there was a huge chance that I would never see her again and that this would be the end of our friendship, I didn’t care. It gave me all the more reason to enjoy the moment and the feeling of it. Here I am next to someone who hours ago had been just a stranger on a bus to staying up through the night watching England become just a light in the distance. There is nothing else I could do but to fall in love. With the moment, with her, with the feeling, and with life. This is what I was looking for when I set out to travel the world. A memory like this.
The ferry docked in France and it was time for us to get back onto the bus. By this point it was almost 4 in the morning and my stop would be the next one around 6:30-7:00 am. We both wanted to get at least a few hours of sleep before having to make it to our destinations. Even on the way to our seats we were joking and smiling with each other. Mostly about how ridiculous our leg flaunting friend was. But hours felt like minutes and now it was time to finally rest. It amazed me how I couldn’t even function let alone want to talk to anyone hours ago and now here I am having to force myself to sleep and to stop talking.
Eventually we both drifted off into sleep. It couldn’t of been more than an hour or two of rest before my stop came. I had been half awake and still groggy. I grabbed my things together and gave her a kiss on the cheek and said my goodbyes. I told her that it was really nice to of met her, and I really meant it. It’s wasn’t out of courtesy, it was genuine. Part of me hoped I would see her again and the other half accepted that this was it. Either way I had spent 9 hours in love and I was okay with it.