I wake up early enough to see everyone else wake up. Groggy, lining up to the restroom to brush their teeth, staring out the windows idly. The woman in front of me has on blue footie pajamas and was rolling up a joint in plain sight yesterday. She and her two excited (and shoeless) comrades speak in the sort of slanted banter that makes me want to travel more. And farther. I can see a burgundy passport resting on the other woman's lap. England, I believe. Her boyfriend nearly stumbled over backwards when we passed the Lincoln Memorial riding out of D.C., eyes wide, grin wider as he took in the sight of the statues glowing in majesty. I barely looked over. I'd seen it before. D.C. was my backyard for four years and I barely cared about the monuments. But to see this foreigner get starry-eyed just to pass stiff presidents at 90 mph… I want that. I want that kind of appreciation for new sights that are old to everyone else. I want for my navy blue passport to be the oddball of the bunch. Instead, I lean back in this American train, stare at folded lawn chairs in the middle of woody American backyards and fields of American cows chowing down on grass. I recline the cushy seat as far back as it can go and stretch my legs, allowing my body to rock with the cradle-like motion of the train, letting my mind drift to non-American places as I wait for us to pull up hours later alongside the Mercedes Benz SuperDome. My time will come, but for now, this trip will do.
As he rambled on about the anti-American "fuckers" trying to ruin our lives, I struggled to avoid giving him the dismissive nod and smile. I didn't want him to think I agreed with all of his leftist political jargon. To be fair, he wasn't all bad. He was friendly and assumed we were well-versed enough to keep up with all his facts and figures and gave us consolation prizes for lending an ear to his eon-long Kanye rant. My friend Desire chose the light up necklace blinking around his neck and I chose the silver set of beads with stars and moons that read "Morpheus." That randomness totally set the tone for a wild week.
I'd bought a cannibus lollipop (relax, I did research, there's actually nothing in them), gone to a cookout with Solange, sang "Independent Women" at karaoke, got over my fear of gambling and won my first $10 in Harrah's Casino (well, $5 actually, since my friend Camille and I split our winnings), played a frightful game of jumbo Jenga with building blocks and grabbed at beads and dollar bills tossed from gridiron balconies in exchange for a tit show (I showed no tits).
Unfortunately, we missed the Zulu parade, but only because it happened at 8am and it was rainy, cold, and we all felt colds coming on. But other than that, everything was perfect.