Day 1, July 21st 2012
Jaime: Another Story of How We Met
Jessie visited me in New York last November so it was my turn to go to Canada, which I had never been before. Taking the overnight bus had the advantage of being minimally intrusive to the natural sleeping cycle. Inevitable boredom was also easily averted this way.
The sky was already dipping in cotton-candy pink when I woke up at the border on Saturday morning. The bus arrived in Toronto two hours later. I only half-expected Jessie to be waiting by the curb at the station — being an hour later than scheduled, I wouldn’t expect this kind of dedication from anyone but myself — and therefore wasn’t surprised to see that she wasn’t there when the bus pulled in. I had better look for a place with chairs.
I noted where the pay phones were in case I needed to call her, even though I had no idea how because, somehow in spite of the risk, I had no Canadian money on me at the time. I then circled outside the station to see if Jessie would be waiting on a bench somewhere. But there were no benches anywhere. I was met only with hawking taxi drivers. Avoiding eye contact with hawkers in a foreign place without appearing uneasy is a life skill worth mastering. If there is anything I am good at, it is pretending to know where I am going. I continued down the length of the station.
As I kept walking, I noticed a Starbucks across the street, and mentally calculated that in the worst case scenario, I could always use its Wi-Fi to DM Jessie. Armed with new-found relief, I circled the station again, this time I noticed there was another terminal, similar to the one I got off at.
I crossed the side street and, seeing movements and a weak fluorescent glow from afar, headed towards what looked like a waiting room. It was full of people, but quiet. Passing through the door, I spotted Jessie near the overhead announcement screen across the room. She was looking at her phone. It was too perfect not to sneak up from behind.
“Where did you come from?!” Jessie, of course, didn’t jump. We are already too old to actually be surprised when we are surprised. Nonetheless, I was still proud of the execution of my little maneuver.
Jessie then told me she had actually been waiting at the curb until five minutes before I arrived ( —there are always two sides to the story). She also said she had also thought about going into Starbucks. A brief moment of unacknowledged disappointment followed as we realized we could’ve had a better story.
Then we went to breakfast because Jessie was starving. I only had coffee because I couldn’t decide what to eat, and stole strawberries from Jessie’s plate.
(Jessie: I was actually trying to take a photo of the girl’s cool lace top :P)
Jessie: Complaints About the Toronto Coach Terminal
Because I’m nothing but a procrastinator, I stayed up until 3AM (or later) to put together my birthday present for Jaime. I managed to wake up and head downtown to pick Jaime up from the station on a bright and early Saturday morning. On the ride downtown, the idealist in me kept thinking about the day’s plan: pick up Jaime, head home, nap, then go out later again tonight. I sincerely thought we would be home by 10AM, except her bus was late.
I had never been to the Toronto Coach Terminal before; I had no reason to. I arrived at 8AM, her scheduled arrival time and walked around the terminal twice before realizing that I was at the Departures side, and the Arrivals should be somewhere else. It took me a while to find the pathway that takes me out of the terminal and across. And there it is, the Arrivals!
And it looks sketchy as heck.
For some reason the Arrivals building was closed — WELL WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE WAITING TO PICK UP PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO GO?!?!?!?!?!?! THE SIDEWALK? Nonetheless, that was where I stood awkwardly for some time until I got too uncomfortable standing in the street, especially considering all the recent shootings in the city. I bought a cup of iced mocha to wake me up from the Starbucks at the corner and sat at the patio where I could see buses turning in. Before walking in, I was actually hoping she would somehow be inside so we could have an epic “I got here early and I was about to steal the Internet to DM you” moment. Because the Internet is always the answers to our problems, it seems like.
In addition to being a procrastinator, I’m pretty impatient. I might have sat there for less than 10 minutes before I decided to go into the station again and see if by some miracle, she had arrived without me knowing. (Okay, I really wish she had because that would have meant we could go home ASAP and I could have my nap.)
I went back to the terminal, where there were people so I felt less exposed in the middle of nowhere, and stared at the bus announcement screen for the longest time, hoping it would shed some light onto the whereabouts of my Internet friend… except it is the most useless thing ever. It doesn’t tell you if the bus is late or has arrived. It only tells you the scheduled arrival time, its origin and which company runs that bus. NOT. REALLY. USEFUL.
Once again, the idealist in me hoped that this is not the dumbest piece of technology in the world and waited to see if it automatically updates when the bus arrives, because it was 9AM and the buses that were scheduled to arrive at 7AM were STILL LISTED ON THE BOARD. Either they were really late or that really is the most frustrating LCD screen in existence.
I believe I was in the middle of editing a photo of the chairs at the station on Snapseed to Instagram the fact that I’m waiting for Jaime, when she covered her hands over my eyes. And the said photo was too ugly to be salvaged in any way. There is simply no way to make that bus terminal look good, not even Instagram.