Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thank God and Greyhound

For the last couple of days I've been visiting my beautiful Tajik classmate Zamira in St Paul and its been great. After a good catch-up after a long time, Zamira and I went to the science museum to see a lot of dead Germans in an exhibition called Body World ("more than 200 real human specimens"), and took some pictures in a park in the freezing cold.


On the bus ride here, while motoring past the beautiful fields of rural Wisconsin, I was able to get through almost all of King Leopold's Ghost -- an amazing and tragic tale of the Belgian colonization of the Congo. Life is funny like that isn't it? In our hearts and minds we are in two (or more) continents at once, each just as real as the other.

A couple of guys in America once came up with the country and western song Thank God and Greyhound (She's Gone). One of the guys was from Indiana -- a neat kind of thought to have when riding on a Greyhound bus from Indiana, through Illinois and Wisconsin, and onto Minneapolis St Paul.

Thank God and Greyhound, you're gone
That load on my mind got lighter when you got on
That shiny old bus is a beautiful sight
With the black smoke a-rollin' up around the tail light
It may sound kinda cruel but I've been silent too long
Thank God and Greyhound, you're gone.

Where did she go, the woman of this song? Did she come to the rolling rural land of Wisconsin, where barns nestle up against groves of trees, basking in the late light of the day, fields of golden corn shimmering resplendently? Did she see family homes with devoted parents and content children, or homes with men who beat their women and children? Did she see the fading glory of the fall trees, green, yellow, orange and red? The endless stream of hotels? Did she smell the tawdry odors emanating from the McDonalds found everywhere, especially at Greyhound rest stops? Did she ride on a bus full of white college age students, like this one, or dominated by lower class blacks and whites, like the previous one headed into Chicago?

And what of the man who inspired the song? Did he love the woman? Were they lovers? Probably. Did he regard female orgasms as an expression of biological anarchy? Probably not. Did she think he was hick? Maybe.

What a vast and steamy metropolis America is, gleaming, rural, voluptuous, more compelling than it is forgettable.

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