My Hometown Toilet Trip

Taking my girlfriend on a trip to my hometown of Buffalo, New York, meant a lot to me. Buffalo is not just "upstate," as many New Yorkers and native Long Islanders here call it. It's more than just forests and logs iconography. I mean. It's even more than beer, wings, and the Buffalo Bills. It's my nostalgic little slice of home.

Nestled up in Western New York, next to Niagara Falls, lives my little slice of hometown glory. Where I grew up, made movies, and carved my name into several rocks. Luckily for me, it's a pilgrimage that my folks also wanted to make! Their promises of bathroom breaks and carpooling were an offer too enticing to miss. After all, my IBS would take a backseat if constant bathroom breaks were available. Right?

Travel to my hometown

The trip out there was excellent. We stopped at the Delaware water gap and snapped gorgeous pictures of the water and ravine. Glowing red and gold leaves filled the landscape as the sun kissed our temples. It was a gorgeous sight, with gorgeous people and public restrooms to boot!

Seeing my childhood friends was a blessing. We laughed to tears, talking about old memories, broken bones, bruised lips, and how pigeons make love. Normal boy things. Even the glory of Niagara Falls didn't give my IBS a spin. Two Imodium were enough to push any fears aside at this world wonder!

Hitting the road with IBS

But on the drive back, after a weekend of romantic walks and water gazing...When dealing with a road trip, I've often written about how important it is to fast or take Imodium. To stay on the mean highway in search of gas stations and McDonald's to light the way. But most importantly, travel during business hours!

On this return, with only 2.5 hours left, my body decided, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool to poison yourself?"

We stopped at a McDonald's, as he had done several times. I had not pooped yet, so I had some usual bloating. So, I went to the restroom, just in case, and passed a 'Lil fellow—nothing to write home about.

My mom got our meal orders, and we left in the car. I helped my grandma with her sandwich, and my girlfriend enjoyed a crispy and quite envious chicken sandwich. But for some reason, I didn't dive into my nuggets. "Let's wait for this one out. See how things go," I thought to myself.

IBS symptoms hit me

Three minutes later, I could feel myself cramping. Not a full groan attack, but a distant quake in the distance. So, I asked my mom if we could hit up this gas station rather than pass it. I had what I thought would be a nice and healthy poop. I got out with haste, we refueled, and went along our merry way.

Four minutes go by. We see fewer and fewer signs in the middle of rural Pennsylvania. Thick fog blankets the road as our high beams pierce the veil. I don't just feel a gurgle. A full swell of nausea and fatigue washes over my guts like soup. I start shaking and ask:

"Mom, I'm sorry, but I need to go again."

My mom reassured me that everything was okay, and, WITHOUT QUESTION, my dad and girlfriend started finding locations to use the restroom on her phone. No restaurants, no gas stations, nothing. Just thick, blinding fog. I'm shaking and freezing. My hero of a girlfriend finds a Park restroom in the middle of nowhere 6 minutes away.

So, my mom pulls us off the highway, and we make our way, through forgotten neighborhoods and dirt roads, in pitch-blackness, through the woods and brush. All in service of a toilet. I do not know if one would be waiting.

Minutes pass, and my gut continues to cramp and swell.

Scanning the rest stop for a toilet

Once we arrived at this Pennsylvanian state park at 9:30 p.m., we scanned the compound for a bathroom. I emerged from the car and checked a building to find it empty, hollow, and used for dining. My dad rushed up to another, where we saw a vending machine! That was on! We saw a restroom and pushed on the door. It was OPEN!

I rushed inside, with lighting and everything (let there be light!), and used the toilet. Who would have thought? That down some random road, there would be working and UNLOCKED toilet. One with electricity, running water, soap, and even toilet paper! I felt safe. A wave of relief rushed out of me and into the toilet, where I sent it away, down to hell.

I hobbled towards the car, fatigued and ignorant to the mysterious rustlings I could hear just out of sight, past the car's headlights. Bear? Deer? I didn't want to find out!

Dealing with the aftermath

My girlfriend held me as my nausea and discomfort waves passed. She kissed my cheek and reassured me that everything would be okay. I kept apologizing, through wilted lips, how sorry I was, how I took Imodium and fasted and still lost. But my ole grandma, who often struggles to find the words she's looking for to speak, still told me, "Don't ever say that when something like this happens."

She was so right. I was scared of what my family thought about this mad dash through the woods that it fueled into an even more giant flare—causing even more discomfort. I love my family so much. They're my rock and my support. This trip was incredibly nostalgic for me, but it taught me more about them than I did about myself: I wouldn't be anywhere without them. They're my hometown.

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