It was after midnight when our train pulled into the station just beyond the outskirts of town. Why a train station outside of town? It was late and we were in Portugal. Little made sense. The few passengers who got off at the station dispersed into the dark and only my traveling companion and I were left. The station was closing and they shooed us away. But where to go? The buses had stopped running for the day. There was not a hotel nor a hostel anywhere near. No all-night cafe. Nothing. This was the big middle-of-nowhere.
There was one squat, square building next to the station. It was clean with a beautifully manicured lawn surrounding it and several big shady trees that made up a little courtyard that was enclosed by a three-foot stone wall with openings on all four sides of the building. Ahhh... a welcoming idyllic scene. It was inviting. We unloaded our backpacks and guitars and after traveling all day, heaved sighs of relief as we crumbled onto the soft and fragrant grass inside the courtyard.
Looks like we'd be camping there for the night.
As we settled into the idea of this and the comfort of the earth such as it was, a security guard came upon us out of nowhere and in that one universal language of gesture and uniformed harassment, made it clear: we were not allowed in the grassy courtyard.
We pleaded our case.
This was the Portugese John Candy character in Vacation, and we'd just arrived at WalleyWorld after a long and miserable journey across the country...."Sorry, folks, park's closed."
After several futile attempts of sneaking back onto the grass only to get thrown off again and then again, my traveling companion found a big piece of cardboard, spread it out on the concrete sidewalk and this would be our bed for the night.
This would be our bed for the night?!
I would make a rotten homeless person. (Which is unfortunate since I feel that I am always just one mis-step away from being homeless. I'm always thrilled each month that I can pay my rent.) But I whined and I whimpered and I swore that I was finally too old to be sleeping on a piece of cardboard for the night. I needed my f&$king creature comforts!!! ..... when I should have just been grateful, I know.
So now, when I'm out on the road, driving 800 or however many miles, peddling the songs that I and that we have written, lugging equipment around, trying to find places to crash for the night, hoping to save some money when i can, I am eternally grateful to the friends and family along the way who provide a place to stay for the night, warm meals here and there, gas money, and just good companionship.
You know who you are...... Leslie, Ellie, Andrea, Dean, Kathleen, Sammy, Jeff, John, Scott, Colleen, Michael, Andy, Rick, Hap, Stacey, Barbara, Dan, Mark, Joseph, John, James, Karen, Matt, Will, Amanda, Nancy, Greg, Heath, Jim, Robin, Amy Scott, David, Paul, Robert, Kim, ....and on and on....
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!