N was in Boston. Or she wasn't yet but she would be soon. So I caught a bus from Pittsburgh to NYC, where I arrived at midnight. I would only have known that because of my clock; the city looked basically the same as any other time I'd been there. Waiting at Penn Station for an hour proved fine; I was almost just happy to be there again. And then I had another experience that took my mind back to Glasgow, of all places.
A man completely stoned off his face approached me. He wanted to know what I was reading and offered me some of his food, or to buy me some food of my own. I declined but talked politely with him for a while when he said he'd like to take me out for steak, so long as I wasn't married. Damnation, I wish I was a better liar. I said that no, I wasn't married but I was going to Boston. Boston? he said, Maybe I'll come see you in Boston. But, I replied, I'm visiting a friend. So he told me he'd take me and my friend out for steaks. I thought I'd best not tell him we were both vegetarians for fear of hurting his feelings. Then he wanted a hug, which I granted him partially due to it being beyond my ability to stop him at that point. I only got serious when he then kissed my neck. I shoved him away and at this point he said that he didn't mean to make me uncomfortable. I believed him but didn't forgive. He chattered a little longer before saying he had to go but he needed the bus fare. I gave him a few dollars to accelerate his exit but then he said he was going to kiss me. I simply put up my hands in a pseudo-defensive gesture and said that I wanted us to part as friends. As soon as I'd asserted myself, he muttered that we were and walked off.
The whole situation made me reappraise the person who freaked out six months ago because a man may or may not have been making sexual advances toward her. She was within her rights to be upset, sure, but here I am now; calmly, even humorously (I hope), telling the story of a man who stated fairly explicitly that he wanted to give me steak for sex. And I wasn't scared at the time, either, or all that angry. I was just there. I didn't want to be and in a perfect world, I wouldn't have been- no woman would- but I saw it as nothing more than mild bad luck. Wrong place, wrong time, oh well. The message I took from it all; I can handle this. All of this. It was an amazing feeling. I've grown up, at least a little. And in six months time I'll be able to cope with even more. I'm so curious to see that.
I arrived in Boston at six in the morning after another sleepless night on a bus. I called my Mum for the first time in a while and spoke to her for over an hour while trying to stay awake (thank goddess she's home on a Friday night). I spent the morning doing more of the same, wandering around Boston. A nice city, I think. The parks are nice to sleep in, anyway. I surprised N at the bus station in the afternoon and her father gave us a lift back to Cambridge, which we relished, and we got to shower, talk and eat. I'd missed her. Between N and her home, I'd found a comfortable place. Her family, especially her younger sister, were very kind and friendly and took care of me. N, her sister and I spent a few days wandering Cambridge (Harvard Square is kind of cool and it sort of freaks me out that the two movies I saw this weekend both featured it but whatevz, since I went there I suppose it's become a happening place) watching Hook for the old times' sake and Merlin because it's so wonderfully subtexty. We were just taking a break. And then again it was a hard goodbye and she was off to a farm in Georgia.
I spent my last day in Massachusetts visiting Salem which was amahzing if only because of the infectious combination of tacky, gothic and kitsch that characterises so much of the town. Yes, I bought a t-shirt.
And then it was on to Brattleboro.
It's not a perfect metaphor.