First thing’s first: let’s kill all the politicians.
Hear me out. I’m not taking sides in our national dichotomy, as senseless as it is. Really, could all political opinions be represented by only two mainstream parties? That’s part of the lie we’ve been sold, the trap we’ve stumbled into. At this point in time, there’s only one way out. Let’s kill all the Republicans; let’s kill all the Democrats. Every. Last. One of them.
We don’t need them. Those gluttonous sycophants are our enemies. Who are we? We the People, of course. It’s always been their strategy to divide and conquer The People as offerings of capitalistic sacrifice. While we roast like pigs on a rotisserie, they fatten themselves at our altars. But that’s where they made their misstep – in dividing us so thoroughly, they’ve left themselves totally exposed. They’re defenseless, all in one place. We the People, if only we could unite, could easily sacrifice the bloodsuckers, instead. The worst are in Washington, so why not blow it up? Trump, Clinton, Gaetz, Pelosi, Sanders, any type of Kennedy, and definitely all the Bushes – every last one of them. It’s the only way to take our freedom back. It’s the only way to be American.
As you can see, a year indoors has been detrimental to my sanity.
When the pandemic hit, the only thing I knew to do was to freak out, thoroughly and completely. Seven months later, I was still doing the same damn thing. But at some point, I began to ask myself, “Why?” Why am I so angry? Why am I not doing what I want to do? And if no one is paying me either way, why am I not chasing my dreams? Emboldened by my newfound fatalism that bordered on complete recklessness, I made some formerly unthinkable changes.
Meat, dairy, and alcohol went out the door. I had myself a cleansing, a secular baptism of sorts. I switched to a strictly plant-based diet, though I hate the word vegan. It has too many connotations. Too many assholes are vegan, and too many vegans are assholes. We can all agree on that. We should kill all the vegans, too. But definitely the politicians, first.
Anyway, I threw things on the burner that desperately needed to be there. Cleaner (and therefore, more focused) than ever, I attacked my writing with the vigor of a horny bull in a sexy China shop.
I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. For my entire adult life, and most of my teenage years, my dream was to be paid for my words. I finally achieved it, and surprisingly quickly, too, once I cut out all the distractions. No more video games, no more late nights, no more numbing. I wrote what I wanted, I applied to the jobs I wanted, and within two months of my changes, I finally reached my goals. Convinced I had made it, I attacked my new employment with the energy I used to put into worrying about the past and future. Finally, during the year of Corona, I found my way to the moment. I found what it was that I wanted to do. And I found more than ever that I wanted even more.
Writing for an online sports magazine is fun. Truly, I enjoy it. But a job is a job is a job is a job. There are deadlines. There are stories I don’t care about. There are corporate sponsors and their surprisingly sensitive feelings that must be considered. There are bad editors, lazy HR reps, and criminally greedy CEOs. For someone determined to live their dream, building someone else’s dream is simply a nightmare. My dream was to write my own books, gain my own following, and be my own boss. Drunk on unearned confidence, I set out to make my dream a reality.
So, again, perhaps unwisely and perhaps naively, I began (again) reaching for something I’ve never done before. Sure, getting paid to write is great, but covering stories about athlete’s ex-girlfriends? That’s the definition of dumpster writing. I was in need of yet another detox.
As the vaccines rolled out, I looked at my surroundings with new eyes. I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, searching for a way to live off my words. Back then, I thought it might be on stage. Back then, I did the most cliché thing possible, devoting most of my time and money to a silly little game called improv. I joined the famed Upright Citizen’s Brigade and was sure I had punched my ticket to stardom. While I had some good times, I found the UCB system to be yet another petty pile of crap. How could I be surprised? Los Angeles itself is nothing more than a sprawling, diarrhea-filled bodega bathroom you might be forced to use on your way to Mexico.
But I’m getting off track. This is about my travels, not about my reasons for them. Suffice to say, I needed a break from Los Angeles, and indeed the United States. When Cristina, my ever-patient saint of a girlfriend, suggested we vacation in the south of Spain, I jumped at the opportunity. For the first time in a long time, I was leaving my apartment, donning a mask, and leaving the infinitely sunny Los Angeles behind.
Our trip to Andalucía marks the second time I’ve left the States, though it might as well be the first. I can’t even remember the year of my first overseas adventure. It was some pimply-faced time in high school, perhaps my sophomore year. Mrs. Magyourk, a name I will never forget (we used to call her Mrs. MacGorgeous), and her husband led me and a murder of white teenagers on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Our mission? Hell if I knew. Annie Janas, the hottest girl in school, was going. That was the only mission I needed. Dripping in privilege, we tramped through that half-island as if it were our own, proud of our religious imperialism. I remember going to an orphanage and crying because it was quite sad, all the dirty children with their cleft chins and missing limbs.
Then, we went white water rafting. It was vividly tropical and quite a bit more fun. Then we went shopping, bought the typical trinkets, and returned to my birthplace in Georgia, re-assured of God’s plan. Or, at least, of Mrs. MacGorgeous’s.
This trip to Spain would be different in many ways, though I still planned to buy some trinkets. For one - I knew exactly where we were going and why.
Cristina and I meticulously planned our travels, from spending time with her extended family to exploring Roman ruins. Instead of a high school in Georgia, we were departing from California’s city of sin – the infamous, filthy, and wonderful Los Angeles. Our plan was simple: fly to Dublin, fly to Barcelona, take a train to Malaga, and spend three weeks getting boozed on the beach. (Though I cut out alcohol at home, a vacation is a vacation is a vacation is a ... )
We booked our flights months in advance, salivating over the possibilities. A month later, Aer Lingus, Ireland’s most sexually charged airline, hit us with some cunning linguistics. Apparently, there weren’t enough seats sold on our flight, so they rebooked us on another. Our plans changed from a noon flight to an impossibly early departure, one that no sane traveler would ever book. The change in itinerary centered around a ten-hour layover in Dublin from morning till afternoon. Due to the pandemic, we would invariably spend the entire layover inside of an Irish airport. Despite the disappointment, the involuntary alterations did bring about one positive change: instead of flying into Barcelona, we would fly direct to Malaga, our home base for the trip. This worked out much better for our plans, so we agreed to bite the bullet. The travel time had extended from one day to two, three days when you account for time zones. Though the shift was about as convenient as a second asshole, Cristina and I were determined to make it work.
But first: we had to find a sitter for our recently-adopted pandemic dog. We called upon my younger brother living nearby in cloudy San Francisco. Bravely, and perhaps in need of a vacation of his own, Charlie answered our call.