sexta-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2012

Journey to Utopia: Day Ten

So I got off and was in the bus station. My cellphone was finally working again. I was back to the US, so I could call Brazil, could use mobile internet agaon. The first thing, google a car rental in Boston. I looked for one in the station, there was none. I saw I had to take the subway and it would be about 5 stations away. Not difficult to buy tickets from the machines. Half an hour (it was morning rush hour) and I was there. I didn't know in car rental agencies you must always have a reservation, walk-in is a matter of luck. I imagined you just had to arrive there and they would have cars for you. There was a big one but I didn't want to start driving in the US in a big car. A medium to small would serve me much better. I had to wait for some time, but I had plenty of hours, so even if I drove slowly, I could wait. They had a car. I gave her my documents. I thought I would have problems for having the Brazilian license. No, that was fine. And then the problem. I had 3 credit cards with me, the Brazilian one, the American one and the travel money one. The only that had limit or funds enough for the transaction was the travel money. I gave it and she said: "your nome is not printed in the card." I said: "I can show you the webpage and my balance". No. "Can I pay cash?" No. Is there a Wells Fargo near here? I would make a transfer to my American account. Taxes and all, but OK. There was an ATM only, 50 miles away. I gave up. Let's google alternatives. There is a bus going there. It leaves from... the bus station I was in.

So I went back, more half an hour and there I was. Back to point zero. Ask here and there and there was a bus leaving in half an hour. So I could get something to eat and while I was eating there and reading the leaflets from the bus company, the bus arrived. I was so happy. I would still make it in time. I got on and learned I might get there at 1:10pm, just ten minutes late. Anyway, I had to inform Marge I was not driving there and I was going to be a bit late, calculating also time for walking or getting a cab from downtown to her house. As there were barely no cabs in Gainesville, I imagined it would be the same in Wellfleet.

I sent Marge an email telling her I might be a bit late. She asked me why and I told her I had a problem renting the car so instead of driving I was going by bus. She said she would pick me up at the city then and asked if I had already had lunch and I told her I was not really hungry. She said the last bus going back to Boston would leave at 2, so I would have to be able to interview her in 40 minutes from getting there to leaving. And she would meet me at the restaurant which was in front of the bus stop. I got so disappointed. I had come a long way and was so excited about this chance. 40 minutes? It didn't seem fair.

I got off the bus where she told me I should. I had called her to inform I was getting there. When I got off the bus a thin drizzle was coming down. There was also some wind but I had my jacket on, so I was fine. I waited for 5 minutes more or less and she arrived, driving her black Volvo.

I don't know what kind of romantic notions I had of that first moment, but I just extended my hand and we introduced ourselves officially. She showed me the restaurant and we went in. I still could not swallow the fact I would have to leave so soon. We saw the menu and she recommend me the swordfish salad. I was not hungry but thoght it would be impolite and stupid not to eat. She was surprised when I told her I didn't normally drink coffee ("From Brazil and you don't drink coffee?!"). Before the food came, I opened my computer and prepared the cellphone to record the interview. She said the plan was to take me to her house and cook something but as I had only less than one hour... she whispered that was not a good restaurant and if I had more time she would have taken me to The Bookstore, a much nicer restaurant.
It was at that moment I made up my mind. "I haven't come such a long way to die in the shore, so to speak. Even if I have to commit some crime and spend the night in jail, I'll do it." "There is no jail here!", she answered. "Well, it's out of season, I'll figure out a way." And in fact, she did find me a way. She called her friend Martha, who managed to put me up at a nice little cottage. So, now we had plenty of time. And she kept reminding me that if she knew we had more time...

I asked Marge the questions I had in mind and on my guideline. I thought it had been a wonderful interview. (It was only some weeks later, while I was transcribing it that I realized how much I still have to learn on how to make interviews. No followup questions when I should have, no beginning, middle and end. A complete mess. She was kind to even ask me to rephrase a question or two when they came out too baffling.)

Piercy was sure to make the interview into something more like a conversation: she was always asking me something and we started talking about the place where we were. It was my first time visiting Cape Cod and she gave me a very informative overview. She concluded by saying that…

"This is a sea-going place, you find many place where people go to the sea, people have a very wide tolerance because the men were gone, whaling for a year or two at a time, women only were left, the men were only with men, there were also black sea captains, out of Provincetown slavery was still legal. Always the whaling was racially mixed, just like in Moby Dick. A lot of the best harpoons with sea islanders, there was this tolerance from the beginning here, toward different lifestyles and so forth." And then my questions started.

After lunch, when the interview was over, we still had some time and she drove me around to see the cape and the beach. We talked about what they were doing to the region and about nature in general.

As you could see, the day was not so propitious for a swim or a day walking on the beach, so we had to stay in the car. There were two events that made some impression on us. The first was when we were driving within the village. The streets were narrow and winding and we were just turning around a corner and a huge truck was coming on the opposite direction. It was partly invading our side of the road and there was nowhere to escape. Marge froze and the car came to a halt. I saw my life passing by in seconds and the truck driver just went back to the other lane some seconds before hitting. We took a deep breath and keep on going. I'll soon tell you the second.

There was a moment I felt like a fool (they were more abundant than I had thought possible) when we were on the bay. She pointed to one of the houses and said "Howard Djinn used to live there. Do you know him?" I had probably answered with my question mark face and she was appalled. "You don't know the famous historian? People's History of the United States?" Then I realized she was talking about Howard Zinn, the famous historian, who had recently died. I had indeed read some chapters by him but if I said then I was sure it would sound as if I was just trying to fix the bad impression.

We still had some time, so she took me to her house and I would get to know her cats. First, we went around to see more of the region and we got a road which was a dead-end. When we got to the deadend, Marge had to make a u-turn and go back the same way. The road was narrow and she went outside it to the right and started turning. The thing is there was not enough space and to the left there was an escarpment. She was going toward it and I got tense but she realized we were not going to make it (it was deceiving, I would probably have done the same if I was driving). The car came to a halt and she had to do some steering before we could continue.

As I got to her house, I was so happy. There were a lot of books and it was warmer. We went upstairs and there were big windows and a living room. So we sat there and she said I could ask her more questions. I thought, "God, or the universe, was giving me a second chance to make wrongs right."
I turned on the cellphone recorder and asked her more questions. Again, more than an interview, she asked me things too, or encouraged that I talked and we were having a conversation.
I met Xena and Efi. She called Puk but he didn't come. When I told her I loved juice, she went downstairs to get me some cranberry juice. Ira Wood, her husband, arrived. He came upstairs and we talked for a little bit. He was the one who would take me to Martha's house. He was a very friendly person and it was very easy to see how they had fallen in love with each other.

I guess his presence made me feel more comfortable and I started to talk the hind legs off a donkey. It was time to go though. I thanked Marge for the time she had given me and apologized again for my late decision of staying. If only I had thought about that before. 

Ira took me to Martha's house and we had more chance of talking. It was lovely. Then, he left me there and went back home. When I got upstairs, Molly, Martha's partner showed me the cottage. It was only then, when I realized the camera was in my pocket but I hadn't taken any picture with Marge. Not in the restaurant, not in her house, nothing. I had completely forgotten, so the only visual proof I have is her hands on the wheels in the picture above.

I felt so stupid for that. The camera had been in my pocket all along. I had the cellphone, with maybe a better camera. Yet,  I felt extremely happy. I had been able to do something very important. I am studying Piercy for a reason and she defends and represents a lot of values I identify with. I prayed that it was not the last time we were meeting. (apparently, it isn't)

These are some images from the outside of the cottage I was in. The cost of it and the bus together would not be as much as I would have spent with the car rent. I could take a nice shower and get to bed as it was cold. I ate the rest of the snacks I had in my bag. I got wifi and downloaded the two Fringe episodes I had missed and one of Downton Abbey. I watched them and called Brazil. It was so wonderful to sleep. The next morning I woke up quite early as the first bus would come at 7am. I wanted to be in Boston early to try to visit some places. I would have only one day there so I had to take advantage of it. Some morning pictures on the bus stop.

PS - Even before the interview I was working on a poem for Marge and it gave me more material to end it. I never thought she would ever see it, or that she would comment on it. She did both... =)
To read the poem, click here.

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