Okay, so based on the name of my blog, I have this (not very original and no doubt soon to become tiring) idea to name the posts – at least at first – after Alice in Wonderland themes, but it just so happens that Chapter 2 kind of works for my thoughts today. In the summer of 1992, having broken up with my boyfriend of two years who I had to planned to move to Boston that fall to be with and eventually marry and live happily ever after with in this life and the next, I found myself a wee bit lost in the world. Granted, I didn’t have the greatest foundation to start with, so I was as lost as anyone at nineteen…times six hundred.
Anyway, I was living with my dad and working two or three lifeguard jobs at the time, one at the Howard Johnsons near the airport. In hindsight, this was a pretty sorry little motel, with outside access to all the rooms and a super tiny pool with an unobstructed view of the parking lot. It was one of those C-shaped deals where the whole place was built around the swimming hole, and I imagined you could see me sitting there from any room in the joint.
They didn’t have an official lifeguard chair, so I would sit at a table in the corner and vaguely watch the families or, when no one was there, I would read. I don’t entirely recall my state of mind or my plans (if any) or how I fathomed I might bail myself out of my latest mistake. In fact, my only real memories of the job are the umbrella-covered table, the little room that had the pool pump where you’d add the chlorine, and feeling of being on total display. Perhaps as a result, when this guy in his late 30’s (older than I am now, the dog!) started hanging around and wanting to talk to me every day, I was relatively receptive. Actually, I will add an addendum based on fifteen additional years’ life perspective and quite a bit of therapy, and note that I used to believe that if someone hit on me, I had no right to say no or reject them. Heck, I was still operating that way a few months ago!
So moving on, this guy, whose full name I am surprised to find I still remember – we’ll call him Aaron – was in town buying the wheels and axles off trailer homes and selling them to some outfit in York. Simply because he could make big money off this, I suspect there had to have been something sinister or sleazy or predatory about doing so. Admittedly, this is also a little colored by later learning he was a giant douche bag. But what do I know from trailer homes? Anyway, the only reason Aaron, who claimed to have been living in Hollywood working on the show Amazing Stories and to only have ever loved cocaine-addicted women named Jane, matters to this story is because he put the idea in my head.
After raking in some quick cash buying and reselling the axles of the poor and disenfranchised, he was off to Prague to make his fortune. In 1992, Czechoslovakia had just recently become a democracy again for the first time since the 1960’s, and the soon-to-be expatriates were flowing in from the USofA. He had some whole plan that involved making films for HBO and working for CNN, and I had never been out of the country (not even to Canada), never considered it a possibility, had no clear plan for my life, and this tidbit started the hamster wheel a-turning. Thus, it was a mere two months later that I found myself with the world’s cheapest and possibly least ergonomically correct external-frame backpack strapped on my back, clutching a one-way ticket to London.