Can I Go Now?

Nothing makes you want to get away more than encountering a screaming man on your way to get a salad.

I brought my dinner to work yesterday, but as often happens, I didn’t really want it. It was rice and chicken and broccoli and it was boring and seemed like it was going to be kind of heavy. I decided I wanted a salad instead, so I climbed out of the basement (which was really probably half the motivation for wanting to score some chow somewhere else) and headed down the block to fetch one. As I crossed the street, I could hear a man yelling. This isn’t terribly unusual, and I figured it was probably a homeless man out of my line of sight.

But as I approached the restaurant where I meant to get my salad, I discovered I was wrong. In fact, it was a guy I believe to have a home, in his 30s, wearing shorts and sandals and a hooded sweatshirt (a sweatshirt, in 90+ degree heat), and bellowing into the phone. Something about “..and now she’s dumping it on me?! She’s dumping it on me after I wasted a hundred minutes of cell phone time?! I wasted a hundred minutes on my cell phone and she’s dumping it on me now?!…”

He was standing about ten feet away from a silent homeless woman who I’ve seen before. She intrigues me because she’s black (I don’t mean to be culturally insensitive with that vague description; quite the contrary – I don’t know if she’s African-American or an Islander or otherwise), but she paints her face darker. With big round circles left unpainted around her eyes. Like she’s making her own private statement on Vaudeville or something. I’ve wondered before if she’s just touched in the head and doesn’t realize she’s already dark-skinned. But given her company on the sidewalk, tonight I was thinking she might have been the saner of the two.

With Sweatshirt Guy screeching away, I rolled my eyes behind my sunglasses and walked into the restaurant. It took 20 minutes to get my salad because there was only one person preparing food and there were about four people ahead of me. When I walked out of the restaurant, I was surprised to find that the same guy was still standing outside, yelling into his cell phone. And I could swear I heard him call the person on the other end of the line “Mom.”

Wow, I thought as I stood at the curb waiting to cross at the light. You’re a real winner, huh? I could still hear him yelling after I’d crossed. Who was this guy? Who were his friends? Who could possibly like or love him? He’s screaming at his mother through a cell phone on a city street with lots of people around. And it’s not just that maybe she’s hard of hearing or the connection is bad. There’s definite anger involved.

You’re not real, I thought. You are a character in a sitcom or something. I’m being punk’d. You cannot be real!” 

And then I thought, You don’t see nonsense like this in other countries. 

I have been fantasizing lately about fleeing the country and visiting some really awesometastic place. Not like Bengali or Bora Bora (although I have friends who went to Bora Bora and let me tell you, the photos were pretty freaking awesometastic). No, what I’m craving is something more “oldest established.” London. Paris. Rome. Florence. Prague.

Yeah, I’m mostly limiting my fantasies to Europe, I guess. But I think I want to go somewhere that I have an image of in my head, as opposed to some totally new place where I don’t know what to expect. I mean part of the fantasy is the idea that it could actually come true, right?

I’ve been to Paris. Before I went, I had told several people at varying times that I would generally like to spend my money traveling to different places rather than returning to the same place. It was a big part of the reason I had repeatedly told my friends in Melbourne that I couldn’t come back to Australia before I’d done some more globetrotting. When I returned from France, I promptly told everyone (except my friends in Melbourne) that I had lied. I wanted to go back to Paris as soon as possible. I know it’s obvious and trite and, like, soooo 1900s, but it’s true. I fell in love with that city and I didn’t get a ton of time to explore it, so I have to go back and finish my unfinished business.

Bonjour, Rive Seine..

I want to go to London. I used to not really be enamored of London at all… I didn’t really care if I saw it or not. But now I want to go, and I can’t really say why. The accents are cute. What? It’s all I got. That and the stone structures everywhere.

Even when the rioting broke out, I still sat at work and deliberated and decided I would rather be there than in a basement. I knew the unrest had gotten bad when the postcard my sister had sent from London several weeks ago threw itself off my refrigerator door two nights ago. When even the stationery is in an uproar, there’s a problem. And you have to be impressed by the solidarity.

When I bent over and picked it up, I looked at the collage of photos of the city and sighed.

I want to go to Italy. One of my coworkers just returned and had all these great stories about randomness that happened while he and his family were there. They just jaunted up to Castel Gandolfo from Rome one day and wound up being blessed by the pope. They got lost in Venice. How great does that sound? To get lost in Venice? It’s hard to care that you’re lost when you don’t really know where you are to begin with. They ventured into neighborhoods and found hardware stores and markets and I kind of hate my coworker now.

Then I came home and I watched back-to-back episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, and one of them was in Rome, shot entirely in black and white. And now I want to go to Rome in black and white, please.


I realize that I was just in a pretty great place.

Castaway Cay, Bahamas, with a storm brewing

I’m ready to go to another great place now, thank you.

I don’t know what’s causing this craving for change and adventure. I’m a little bored, I admit, but that happens sometimes. I guess I’m restless, but that’s a motivator. It’s only been three weeks since my vacation. Most people would tell me to shut up. But apparently the Mickey Boat and getting out of the basement and walking down the street to find a guy screaming at his mother on a cell phone is not enough adventure for me.

At least if there was a guy screaming at his mother in France, it would sound nicer.

Now, for my lovely subscribers and/or commenters: the laptop works. You can imagine my relief when I closed my eyes and squished up my face and turned my head away while I hit the power button to find out what would happen. The lights came on, the little computer music played, and I swear, angels sang.

Glory, hallelujah.


16 thoughts on “Can I Go Now?

  1. So I have desire to go to Ireland, Venice and Greece. Ireland because that is where my family originally came from, Venice because it’s Venice and Greece probably because of Mamma Mia. Whatever reasons, those are the places I want to go.

    As for the strange guy on the street, when I was in NYC this past February there was a homeless man on the corner with a plate and he kept shouting over and over again, “No matter where you, no matter what you do, people are a$$holes.” (No, he didn’t say dollar signs, he pronounced his s’s and he pronounced them well.) I thought to myself, “Yeah, that makes me want to give you money.” Shrugs shoulders.

    • I forgot to mention Ireland! I want to go there too! I’m half Irish and I still have relatives in County Kerry and County Cork. Allegedly. As for Greece, for what it’s worth, I’ve heard that Athens is a disappointment, but Santorini and other places are to die for.

      And the homeless guy in NYC was not wrong. He was just using the wrong PR approach. 🙂

      • Ah…I have family in the “old” country too. I can’t remember where though…..I would have to look it up. 😉

        I wouldn’t go to Athens, I am thinking more of the countryside. :0

        Yes the homeless guy shouted some truth, but not all people are bad. 🙂

  2. I spent a month in London (I know – Lucky!!!). I was actually taking a class. I would go back in a heart beat. Ireland, the same. Cannot wait to get back there some day. Paris – my most vivid memories (I had a migraine the entire weekend I was there – during the month I spent in London) the intense smell of urine along the River Seine. I am assuming it was because so many people relieved themselves under the bridges because they did not want to pay for the use of toilets. Maybe I should go back and give it another try?

    • Where have you been, lady? I’ve been waiting for your next post! Definitely jealous of your month in London… but it’s a shame you didn’t have a good experience in Paris. I bet sans migraine (that’s French) you’d like it better. I didn’t smell anything bad when I was there. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have eaten so many jambons & fromages avec buerre en baguettes. (The first one was divine. The fifth, less so.) This is part of why I need to go back; I only had the true Parisian dining experience once while I was there.

      • I was “roughing it” in the wilds of northern Michigan…if you can consider staying in a 35 foot travel trailer with all the amenities of home “roughing it”. I was soaking up enough love, hugs, smiles and cool nights to last me through another fall, winter and spring in FLA.
        I do believe I’ll give Paris another try one day. Sans migraine.

      • Aha! That’s right – you went north. I just didn’t realize it meant total absence. You should totally give Paris another go. She’s lovely and she never meant to hurt you.

  3. I fell in love with Paris too! I know it looked nasty and there was graffiti everywhere but there was romance in the air. I know it’s corny but I’ll never forget it. My fiance (at the time) proposed to me there. I would still go back. I loved that place.
    London…not so much. The people speak 18 languages and it’s very fast paced. I’m from the South so of course it threw me off. People loved to hear me talk. They would always ask me to say things and then once I said “she was yellin’ at me” and this guy said “Say it again. I’ve never heard anyone actually say that before” it was pretty funny.
    Now, I want to travel again…one day…one day…

  4. Sigh! I haven’t been too many place outside the US. When we lived in San Antonio, we used to drive down to Nuevo Laredo (that was before the drug lords took over). Big whoop. I went to Niagra Falls twice with my parents when I was a teenager. It was the Canadian side. Does that count? We did go to Ireland a few years ago and loved it and I would go back in a heartbeat. I think the economy and the state of the world has us glued stateside. Your traveling and travel plans (or dreams?) sound lovely.

  5. I haven’t been anywhere. Not even off the east coast yet. What the heck have I been doing? I’m so jealous! I would love to go to Greece, especially.

    I’m glad to hear that your computer is up and running fine – what a relief for you! Now back up those files!!

    • See my comment to Jodi Stone re: Greece (from what I’m told – I dunno). My work IT guy says if the laptop is working fine from the get-go, it should continue working fine. But I’m still backing stuff up, because… well… I’ve needed my computer at work fixed for like MONTHS and he still hasn’t done it.

  6. I really want to head back to London. I think it’s an amazing city; if I couldn’t live in New York, I’d try my hardest to make it there. Paris is great but, the next time I visit, I want to speak the language and get by on my own. I really want to get to Japan badly. Venice is a life-long dream. How can I make my globe-trotting fantasies happen? (Lottery much?)

    • I think part of the reason I loved Paris so much is that my French is passable (in Paris… not in the south of France. Turns out.) I have no real interest in Asian countries – isn’t that terrible? But don’t worry – I need to win the lottery, too, to do any of these things. Sigh.

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