Sordid Tales On The Bus

No secrets exist in a 320 square foot apartment for eight people. Once the Roadshow crew got thrown into the motor bus pot, all masks flew out the window. I’m not sure if the lack of personal space is a good thing or bad thing, and wonder what other people think about this subject. I have lived in tight quarters for the past three years, having five room mates in a “three bedroom” flat in the Mission District. But here on the bus, we’re literally packed like salty fish. I need to re-read Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” to see if he mentioned personal space. Like toilet moments in Hollywood movies, I haven’t experienced the sordid details of compact living via any type of media.

So, two nights ago, when I started spewing liquid out of my body, everybody knew about it. I got food poisoning after eating a store-bought sandwich at our gig in Lisbon Park, which started out as heart burn and ended up as a night filled with puking sessions. I chilled in my cubby as the crew had a supper, complete with mushrooms that Nick found at Clear Lake State Park in Iowa. Zach, Moe, and Veronica totally supported me, going to the store and buying juice and medicine, rubbing my stomach with peppermint, and making me tea. This was totally a sweet thing to do, and the true meaning of community.

On the smaller side of sordid tales, the cycle of lost looms over the whole crew. Lost started before we left Oakland and I experienced it early when my Klean Kanteen disappeared during the load in. Daily, if not ever few hours, I hear someone saying “Where’s my tooth brush?,” “I can’t find my sandals,”  and “have you seen my phone charger?” Setting up a lost and found has proven useless when the buses constantly churn and turn with stuff loaded in and loaded out. Julia the bus had a lost and found drawer full of stuff, but I’ve only seen one discovery in there. Marty had lost his water bottle and it turned up when I opened the drawer and asked him if it was his.

The lost and found box I made for the crew is now used for walkie talkies. The official lost and found box is found on the floors of the bus. Or in random places. Tonight, while David looked for his cell phone (again), I found a pile of clothes stuffed in the shower area. “Are these yours?” I asked. “No. Wait, those shoes and socks are mine.” But no phone showed up until Maya called it and David found it from the ring. While cleaning up Julia to showcase during the DNC, I found random things on the ground. Used briefs turned out to be the least favored items to put somewhere. As I write this, Moe is looking for a book she’s been reading.

I used the term cycle of lost because it seems that things go away and then turn up in cycles. Some people seem to constantly lose items, and they’re usually the ones that don’t pick up after themselves. The neater cubbies seem to have less cycles of lost than the messy ones, so Zach and David are always looking for their stuff. Thus, we all get to know each other a little better via our stuff and the lack of knowing where they are.

I won’t mention names, but other sordid details appear while living in close quarters. Sorry you can’t pee because you can’t find a private place to do so. Ha, how funny to hear that you’re having a horny day during your cycle. It was good to know that you only had two minutes to take a shower today and had to stand in four inches of grey water while you did it. Ah, you didn’t sleep last night and are totally exhausted. But you’re going out tonight to the bar to hang out tonight. Please don’t sleep naked, for the sake of the rest of the bus! I have to take showers or I’ll get a rash. You can’t eat tofu or you’ll stink up the bus.

Below the belt humor reigns here on the road. Whether on the walkie talkie or during dinner conversation, body parts below the belt (and the things that they do) are trendy topics. Right now, there’s a talk about big butts, which began with nude sleeping and penis control. I spent most of the day telling folks about “leaking out of my body” from several directions, and folks were genuinely concerned. The current conversation has now evolved to wondering how Germans say vagina.

David was the butt of jokes several days ago after officially injuring himself head to toe. After a hard day of driving through Nebraska, we stopped for a night at the Adventureland RV park outside of Des Moines, IA. I had used David’s credit card to make the reservation for two units, so woke David up when we arrive. He’d been wiped out all day, sleeping mostly, after going nonstop in Denver. He’d been the main handler for Luciano while he was in town for the two events. Somehow, while up on the roof of the condo building, David had managed to burn his fore head on a scalding hot pipe. So, along with exhaustion, David wore a mark of hard work via a red burn over his right eyebrow.

In Des Moines, I woke him to go to the front desk with me to check in. I wasn’t sure if I needed him, but didn’t want to cause unneeded delays if I did. I woke him, got his credit card and walked him to the front desk. Along the way, David missed a curb with his bare feet (he couldn’t find his shoes so I told him to go without) and stubbed his toe. Well, he peeled off the first layer of skin on his big toe, which was a bit more sordid. I ran back to Julia and grabbed our amazing first aid kit and walked David to the Adventureland hotel bathroom to set up a triage unit at the sink. I helped David peel off the layer of skin and dress it while Jonathan and Moe checked in for us. So, officially, David held the title for the first person on the crew who was inured head to toe. Literally.

I hold the title for “a new sickness each week” and hope to lose that title when this Thursday rolls around. Still, I’ve overheard banal conversations about leg hair. I’ve shared my deoderant with someone, maybe for the first time. Again, I’ve seen more people looking for lost things than I can keep count of.

Maybe some of you have been to Burningman and experienced bus living long enough to see how bags explode and personal items get strewn about. Maybe you’ve been on RV trips and had to constantly keep track of your things while on the road. If not, this is a small slice of compacted living that I’m sharing with you. Personally, I’ve had to take breaks from the whirlwind of mess, litter, clutter, and stuff. So I’m learning a new skill via community living. Still, I have to laugh at the tangle of cable wires coming out of the A/V boxes, and the echoing mantra in the cycle of lost. Hopefully, my Klean Kanteen will show up. And Moe will find her bag. And David will find his charger. It’ll all work out, I’m sure, here in the smelly, no-secret world of bus life.