I love traveling — except for when it gets complicated.
About two weeks ago, I traveled to Colorado for Warped Tour (which was a blast! Review will be up soon, you’ll soon see why it has taken me awhile to get it up). Getting there, there were very little complications. My flight was delayed maybe 20 minutes, so nothing too bad.
Monday, July 2nd was the day after Warped Tour and I was pooped and starting to get homesick. Whenever I feel super drained, I just want to be in my own bed hanging out with my cat. I was getting pretty antsy about my flight the next morning. I have everything ready to go, when I get an email at 10:30 p.m. saying that my 9:30 a.m. flight was cancelled.
At first, I was super annoyed because Frontier Airlines has done this shit before — cancelling a flight without giving a legitimate reason why. Two years ago, they cancelled my flight just days before Christmas, forcing me to rent a car and drive the 12 hours home to Iowa. I had no aux chord, no cruise control, and barely any service. It was a pretty boring 12 hours.
So eventually anxiety started to take over my body as I was realizing that the next flight out was in a couple of days, and renting a car would be more expensive than a bus ride home. The busses for the night had already gone, so I was going to have to wait another full day. I started to feel stranded, even though I had a place to stay and didn’t need to worry about getting to the bus station or about a place to sleep.
The next day flew by. Before I knew it, I was boarding a greyhound bus that was taking me to Iowa. I had the seat to myself at first, until moments before takeoff when a guy probably between 18 and 22 sat next to me. I didn’t pay much attention to him, because I had my headphones in and just wanted to doze off. He didn’t really say much. He smelt strongly of cologne, which I knew was gonna make me nauseous later because I’m sensitive to smells. I ignored it.
About an hour into the trip, the guy next to me tries to add me on Snapchat. I politely decline, as I’ve never met this dude before and don’t really care to know him. I let him borrow my phone charger.
The sun starts to set and moonlight washes over the horizon. There’s a rattling sound right next to the window, where I’m trying to lay my head to get some rest. The rattling is so god damn annoying. I can hear a woman getting motion sickness in the bathroom. The guy in front of me has his feet up on the window. At this point, I’m so pissed off that I had to take a 16 hour bus ride home.
The worst part of the trip had yet to come though. The guy next to me rested his hand down by his thigh, touching mine while in the process. I tried to weasel my way out of his touch, and I didn’t think it was intentional — at first. Every time I looked over at him, his head was leaning against the seat, eyes shut as if he were in a restful sleep.
It became apparent though that he was intentionally touching me. He ran his fingers along my bare thigh, fingering the edges of my shorts. I froze. Why the fuck was this guy touching me? I swatted his hand away.
I leaned forward, my head in my hands, trying to not hyperventilate and get consumed in my claustrophobia. He leaned his head on my shoulder. I sat back so that he fell forward. A single tear slipped from my eye and I felt so weak in that moment. I just wanted to be home already. I felt frozen, like there was nothing I could do. I felt so ashamed.
At this point, I was so upset and very uncomfortable. I hate confrontation so much, and had no fucking idea what to do. My brain was telling me to tell the bus driver, and get this guy kicked off. Because I’m too god damn nice, I didn’t want to. So I put up with it, just swatting him away every time he tried touching me. I tried covering up with my tshirt.
At one point, he leaned forward, looking at me and puckering his lips, indicating I should kiss him. This was the cherry on top of a fucking fantastic week already. I was just trying to not make the worst of this 16 hour ride home, and this dude is making it absolute hell for me. I firmly said no, and he frowned at me as if I should feel bad for not kissing him. Why the fuck would I want to kiss this absolute stranger?!!?!? First of all, I said NO. Second of all, I have a boyfriend, which doesn’t matter because I DIDN’T WANT TO ANYWAY.
Even after telling him I had a boyfriend, he was persistent. I was so over his shit — I stopped replying when he spoke, swatted his arm away, pushed his head off when he tried to lean on my shoulder. The sun slowly started to rise as we reached Omaha, and I was miserable.
I hadn’t slept a wink the entire time, partially because I couldn’t but also because I didn’t trust the guy next to me enough to sleep. It was going on 21 hours that I was awake, and I was hungry and thirsty and just wanted to be home. We finally switched busses, and he got on a different one. I sat alone on my new bus, got some sleep, and finally reached Iowa City.
What makes me the most upset about this was the fact that a single woman cannot travel in peace without being touched without consent. There was nothing I did to insinuate that I wanted to be touched in any way, shape, or form. I was pretty clear that I wanted nothing to do with him, especially when I said NO. I love traveling and travel by myself most of the time, but it’s shit like this that makes it scary. I have every right to get to my destination without being harassed by strangers.
So, that leads us to now. I have been feeling so uninspired, anxious, and depressed since that incident. That guy probably thinks he was just messing with me and then I’d be fine — but no. I feel weak, and vulnerable, and scared. It’s been weighing on my conscious ever since it happened. There was so much I could’ve done, and I didn’t. I’ve talked about it to my mom and friends, each of them saying “Why didn’t you do this” or “Why didn’t you do that” and it’s so easy to forget that in the moment things are totally different. Talking about it has actually made it worse — it makes me feel even more shitty for not being strong enough to do something in the moment.
I’m so angry with myself that I let this get in the way of my writing and schedule — I really wanted to have my Warped Tour review up by now. Hopefully that will be up soon, so be on the lookout. For now, I just need to focus on getting back to my groove and not let this consume me.