Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

A free bit of pre-marital counseling for you August 13, 2008

V by church outside Bath, England (apologies to the owner of the tombstone I had to use to prop up my camera)

V by church outside Bath, England (apologies to the owner of the tombstone I had to use to prop up my camera)

Bath, England street scene - a rare sunny moment

Bath, England street scene - a rare sunny moment

If you are considering proposing to or otherwise permanently committing to another person, take a trip to England, rent a car without a navigation system, print out some spotty Google maps directions, and navigate your merry way to Swindon, Bath, Stonehenge, and Avebury Circle. Feel free to grab a map at the rental office, not that it will help.

Then, assuring neither of you is left-handed or originally from Great Britain, take turns driving and navigating (unless you enjoy migraine headaches and near-death experiences, do not try to do both). Then, sit back and take turns raging, criticizing, and generally freaking out on one another. Enjoy!

If you can make these journeys WITHOUT that happening:

  1. You are saints

  2. You are not human

  3. You should definitely get married

  4. Hell, write a book on how to be more like you while you’re at it.

Fortunately for me (and anyone close to me), I am on this voyage on my own, so I had only myself to blame. Further fortunately for myself, I am pretty supportive of my own efforts much of the time, and try to self-soothe with such banter as,

  • “You’re doing great.”
  • “Lots of people drive around with the emergency brake on.”
  • “Hey, you’re American. It’s a wonder you haven’t injured anyone. What more do they want?”
  • “So you had your high beams on the whole team. Nobody died.”
  • “Way to work that roundabout – and in third gear, no less!”
  • “You’re fine. Ignore them.”

Otherwise, I might still be pulled over on some English country road shaking and crying and considering slashing the tires so that someone will come and get me and drive me back to Heathrow. Let me just say, I regard it as a minor miracle that i somehow managed to get back from (truly) the middle of nowhere (if no street anywhere is identified with a name of any kind and it’s all just country roads, stone houses, and lush landscapes, you’re nowhere in my book), return my car, navigate the train and the Tube and be writing you now from London. Whew!

BTW, London (at least where I am – West End) is so much like Manhattan it isn’t even funny. Next door to the Gap is the H&M and Urban Outfitters. Don’t forget the Black Angus and Pizza Hut across the street.

Anyway, before I get any further into London, let me finish up my Bath misadventure story by noting that it’s truly a gorgeous city. Amazingly, stunningly so, I would know because I drove every square inch of it – twice – and got myself cornered in every dead end in town. At the same time, Bath also has THE LOUDEST pigeons on earth – Insane, rowdy, ridiculous, raucous pigeons. It sounded like a pigeon orgy out there: They were screaming, moaning, shrieking, cooing, and caterwauling all night long. I don’t know whether pigeons can have orgasms, but based on the noises I heard, I’m going to go with “yes.”

Of course, all this was only augmenting the ambient sound of people coughing and a guy that would work up to a snore so loud and annoying I thought I might have to climb out of my top bunk and kill him, and then he’d spontaneously fall silent for a few minutes.

This brings us to the subject of hostels. Six, eight, ten people in one room. Zero privacy. Group bed times. The weird freaking noises people make. The AWFUL beds – basically chicken wire with a few cotton balls on it. Yes, they’re damn cheap…and they should be.

Having had to quit my job to make this trip, I’m on a serious budget. The young version of me – the one that slept on trains every night so as to avoid spending any money – still lives and breathes. On the other hand, I’ve learned a thing or two. And if you don’t give the universe a chance to provide for you, how can it?

Thus, I’ve realized, to get all chummy with strangers and expose yourself like that when you’re young is one thing. I, however, am really not all that young. Which is why I’ve determined that there will be no further hosteling unless it’s a town that I’m passing through for just one night and if it’s f-ing close to the train station (this shit on my back is heavy). On the other hand, why am I making myself run around like this to a town a day? If there is anything worse than hauling your every belonging on your back like a gypsy and vagabonding to a new country every day, I don’t want to know what it is. Thus, the one-night stays will also be reduced if not outright eliminated.

A new era of sanity has begun! Amen.



4 Responses to “A free bit of pre-marital counseling for you”

  1. V! Great to read that your trip is going well. I agree that one-night stays are too hurried to really “feel” the place you’re in. Besides, how can you look around for the reason why God has “untethered” you from “that life” if you are constantly on the go? 🙂

  2. wideawakeinwonderland Says:

    Agreed! I’ve figured out one little part of the reasoning (perhaps): I’ve always wanted to make a living as a writer, but never given myself the time (or chance). As of now, I’ve got it started, but it’s hard to get much work done on it when it’s always time to load up like a pack mule and drag myself to another city! I’ve got a little bit of a hectic schedule (pre-planned and difficult to undo) to live down, but once I hit Portugal things are going to get a LOT LESS hectic.

  3. Ms. Write Now Says:

    Very engaging writing! I was searching for free premarital counseling but yours won’t help me just yet as I am (at 28 years old) going for my beginning driver’s permit on this upcoming Friday. However after reading
    about your adventures, I am contemplating a different kind of life than marriage to a preacher’s son in Columbia, South Carolina will allow.

  4. wideawakeinwonderland Says:

    Well, knowing nothing about you (except that you managed to make it to 28 without having to learn to drive! Kind of an accomplishment in its own way! Free tip: Study up hard on the blood alcohol level and drunk driving-type facts. Having moved a zillion times and gotten licenses everywhere, I can guarantee you those are always heavily featured on the written exam!), I say don’t toss out the preacher’s son so quickly. They wouldn’t have written that “Son of a Preacher Man” song if there weren’t a few highlights. 😉
    Plus, who’s to say you can’t travel anyway on your own or travel together or ??? My free premarital counseling would be posing the tough, but true questions: ‘What if I decided I needed to take XXX months to travel by myself?’ Circumstances change, people change…a good relationship (of any kind) allows people to grow. Heck, you HAVE to grow to remain interesting to another person for a lifetime (and vice-versa!) But maybe that’s just the cheap Romanian beer talking. (???)
    Regardless, thank you for reading and the compliment and good luck to you on all counts!!!

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