After parting ways with Cassie and Joe, I knew I needed to beat feet South and quickly.
I only had so much time to get to New York and (hopefully) post up far enough away from the Occupy Wall Street madness to stay out of it. My contact in Port Chester hadn't been picking up his phone so I wasn't holding my breath for a soft place to sleep in the next couple of days. As I travelled South on Rt. 1 I was constantly having to over compensate for shitty Connecticut drivers. It seems that they weren't in the habit of looking ahead while operating their vehicles, for some reason they'd notice me on the side of the road and practically swerve into the other lane to "avoid" me.
Sans sidewalks I was forced to skip back and forth between the overgrown verge and walking in the roadway on the edge of the breakdown lane. Other pedestrians and folks waiting for the bus were eyeballing me strangely as I hopped back and forth willy nilly avoiding traffic and man sized potholes. Again I was struck by the difference between affluence and the lower middle class in CT. Most everyone I'd talked to had told me that "Connecticut is a rich state", the evidence of my eyes was a stark contrast to those rumors. Run down office buildings, closed gas stations, closed restaurants, shortened hours all spoke to a truth that screamed "things have gone down hill".
Even in the short hops between towns you could see where exits for 95 marked areas of greater productivity, more than a mile away from such intersections it was back to closed store fronts and more "cash for gold" signs than I could count. Besides the local back and forth south of New Haven businesses in route 1 corridor seemed to be failing, and fast.
Once I'd passed out of Norwalk, CT the towns of Avalon and Derien blended together with a rich sameness I found nauseating. Nearly every car that passed was a four door luxury something or other, every "deli" had the same 8-9 dollar price tag for a sandwich. Without exception, patrons of the bus stops were either over the age of 60 or a person of color. I knew I would have to cross the Stamford city center to get to my lodgings for the evening, I was interested to see how this city differed in how it was put together from others I'd walked across.
It was strange walking into Stamford from the border of town. There was very little of the suburban feel that I was used to after coming out of the North side of Providence into the city center, or any other college town for that matter. Almost immediately Stamford goes from low income to downtown, pretty much as soon as you cross the turnpike. Five miles in any direction from the center of the city it was basically like walking through Copley Square, as soon as you crossed that border you were in a "fixed income" zone.
It seemed as if some conglomerate god had reached down out of the sky and plunked down a mall, massive Target and college right in the middle of everything. I turned around just to be sure I wasn't horribly confused, nope busted stucco and half torn down buildings on the other side of the over pass. Turning back around, I shrugged and kept heading South.
Stepping into the Target to pick up a hip pack I knew I'd need in New York, as well as to grab provisions to cook dinner for my host, I was nearly smothered by a gaggle of Japanese speaking college students. Swept up into the elevator it took me until nearly the linens department to get untangle from the group and get myself sorted out and pointed to the sporting goods section. I picked out a handlebar bag that I knew would fit on my belt hit the head and took the short walk over to the public library.
I wasted just enough time to catch my host as she came out of work, we met at the Dunkin Donuts on Broad St in the "bad" part of town. After my experience in Bridgeport I was certain that the "bad" part of Stamford was kittens and sunshine in comparison. I was right.
When I met Joan it was to a handshake a brief conversation finishing up with "If you kill me everyone will know" on her part. My immediate "ditto" settled any weirdness and we got down to talking about traveling. She'd just gotten back from Burning Man which prompted me to ask "you wouldn't happen to know where I could find any cannabis would you?" She did a little dance on the other side of the kitchen island, presumably thrilled she didn't have to hide her habit from me. I was just as thrilled, finding cannabis on the trip so far had been a trial to say the least. We ripped a couple of tubes and I finished the night out by smoking a cigarette on the roof, looking out across the sound. Entirely unsure of what I was going to do the next night.