The Fine Art of Deathglaring (And Other Things You Learn Riding the Highway)

Before I star posting my weekend packing lists (yeah, packing is a hobby), let me introduce you to my weekly schedule. Firstly, I’ve got two homes (at the moment). There’s the ordinary weekdays one – the one located in my hometown, where I work – and then there the other one, my home home, with my girlfriend, in the city I’ve lived in for the last seven years. You guessed it right – I commute home every. frakkin. weekend. And no, I don’t mind stretching the meaning of commute for a bit – it sure feels like it.

Now, that’s nothing new to me. Several years back, the situation was technically opposite – I’ve switched cities (and girlfriends, luckily <3) since. But there’s a couple of things you learn, living like that for years. And some of them stick with you. Like the fine art of riding the highway. (On a bus. I’m not that cool, c’mon.)

You learn how to assess whether to sit on the seat number printed on your ticket or choose one at random. It depends on the day of the week (Fridays and Sundays are tricky as hell, as are the days surrounding public holidays), time of the ride (mornings are usually not nearly as crowded as early evenings) and price of the ticket (the cheaper the ride, more people use it).

You learn the fine art (yup, you can be expert at more than one) of carry on luggage. I may be cheap, but I’d rather use my money for coffee (bet it larper’s or gossiper’s) than to pay for my suitcase – it’s roughly the same amount on the rides I use. I’ve gone to incredible lengths to avoid that tiny cost in the past, even resorting to tons of smaller bags to avoid bigger suitcases or rucksacks, but lately I mostly travel only with my purse. And I prefer it. (Which is one of the reasons I’ve started this blog in the first place. To share the love of minimalist packing.)


You learn the fine art of deathglaring. You know the aura (and look) of a serial killer you get when you want to take a seat on the bus next to someone? You can learn it, too! Takes years to master it, but it’s far from impossible. Pay attention to detail in advance. When someone approaches you, look through the window, blatantly ignore them until they adress you, and, most importantly, put everything you can spare on the free seat next to you. Jackets and coats count as double points in this, but they need to be arranged in a manner which shouts “immovable!” as loudly as possible. To conclude things, when someone does dare to adress you, frown. A lot. It may not work every time (hell, there are way too overcrowded rides for anyone to hope to ride alone), but it’s worth a shot. And you get better at it in time!

You learn how not to get cramps when sleeping while sitting down. This one took me almost fifteen years, though – been struggling with it almost my whole life. In terms of lessons, there’s no match to the 11pm – 2am bus rides on nights you have to get up at 6am. Learning how to sleep on the bus was literally the only thing I could’ve done to survive. Unfortunately, I have no real suggestions. Everyone has to figure this one on their own. Though, music in your headphones helps. (Even Iron Maiden. Sometimes.)

You learn how to enjoy doing nothing. Sounds like a piece of cake, but it hell isn’t. For the ride, sometimes I pack books, sometimes notebooks, but most of the time it’s just me and my music. And the scenery. And everything and anything that could cross my mind during the (too long) couple of hours. This one’s easier when I’m heading home (to my girlfriend, no shit) and can sometimes be tricky when I’m going in the opposite direction. But between two places to live (both shared with other, complex packmembers), and not a breeze of a job, the highway ride turns out to be the only time when I’m completely alone. Nevermind the crowd in the coach. Nevermind the sheer annoyance of commuting every weekend. Nevermind the lack of reading light (sometimes) or too loud Croatian radio stations destroying the speakers (always). It’s still my time to think, my time to relax, my time to enjoy.

I’ve been in love with the highway ever since I was sixteen (and the road was still under construction back then). Hell, I’ve even written this post on the bus (home! I’m going home!). Maybe this was the biggest lesson of them all. Sometimes, you need to be alone with yourself, no distractions (apart from exquisite nature on the other side of the windows).

So, the next time you’re going somewhere, no matter how near or far, unless you’re driving, try it. Who knows what your lessons will be?

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