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.
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.
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.