Twilight has hit big here. Though the name “La Saga Crepusculo” is way cooler.
Even Neptune is getting into the spirit of things. Here he is showing his Passion Rojo.
I know what you’re thinking. But this is not, in fact, a museum dedicated to ham. That would be the most delicious museum ever, and would only last about five minutes before the place was devoured.
I dunno who this guy is (the inscription reads “Julio Hernandez, Pintor del Prado”) but he has a certain Vagabond style.
This is the view from the balcony of my apartment. It’s okay, I’d hate me too.
Same thing, just a close up of the church at the Palacio Real. I swear, it’s like living in a Turner painting.
This is a newspaper clipping that was hanging on the wall of my new apartment, and is half the reason I decided to move in. Seriously, it looks like the ‘Before’ picture of the weirdest bachelor party ever. Like Berlusconi took them all out to some weird strip club in Bangkok for a donkey show, and Medvedev was kinda into it, but was trying to play cool, Obama was in the corner somewhere texting Michele and Hu was just sitting there looking mildly uncomfortable the whole time.
I’m surprised, and more than a little touched, by the number of people wishing me a safe return from my trip. Bastards are unaccustomed to expressions of compassion and concern, as we normally only do so ourselves when we’re trying to manipulate people. So it’s with real pleasure that I hear people tell me to be careful while I’m in Madrid.
In all sincerity though, I must answer: no.
I have no desire to be careful. I have no desire for things to go according to plan. I have no desire to not be robbed at knife point, have my wallet stolen, get knifed in spleen and have to crawl my way to a Spanish hospital one moonlit night in Sevilla. If you survive, it’s a fantastic story, and if you don’t, what an awesome fucking eulogy you’re buddies will give you:
Eulogy Giver: This sunuvabitch died in a KNIFE FIGHT in Sevilla. Probably took down two of his attackers with his bare hands too, the bastard. I’m going to die wearing a diaper in a nursing home while sadistic nurses take advantage of my gradual slide into dementia. Fuck you, Vagabond.
If I do somehow manage to make it to 60, I hope I’ve got a least a few interesting scars, and possibly an eye-patch to show for it. I’ll trade body parts for thrilling memories anyday.
I’m not advocating this life choice. If you’re reading this: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. Don’t go looking for trouble, there’s way more than enough of it in this world. Trouble will come to you in its own time.
I’m not going to be stupid, and I’m not going to poke angry bears with sticks. But I hope that neither will I take the safe option. Ever. If I wanted to be safe I’d stay home in New York, the safest city in the country, where I’m never more than a hundred feet from an ATM, reliable food supply, and shelter. To travel is to sacrifice a portion of security for experience.
I read once that danger is like salt. Too much will kill you, but if you give it up altogether, life tastes pretty bland.
Also I mean…c’mon. This is Spain we’re talking about. They’re going on strike to protest a 5% cut in government wages. These guys are way more risk averse than we are.
My initial idea for this post was to have a comic of me, on a vespa, looking cool.
Sadly, I cannot draw comics. And I couldn’t find a good image on the internets that wasn’t either some over-dramatic comic book character on an overly-tough looking Harley, or porn.
I’m going to Spain.
I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about this decision recently. Questions like:
A: Where will you live?
B: Don’t you have a job?
C: Why on earth…?
The answers, in short, are A: dunno, will find a place when I get there, B: Yeah, but it should actually be easier to make my 10am deadline when I’m six hours ahead (thanks to the magic of global living, my deadline suddenly becomes the much more manageable 4pm), and C:….uh, because I can?
I’ve adopted the answer to ‘C’ as a significant part of my philosophy these days, and try to put it into practice as often as possible. Specifically, anytime the idea of something awesome pops into my head, I immediately ask: “Can I actually pull that off?” If the answer is anything close to even odds or better, I start implementing it.
This usually leads to women in bars telling me that no, they will not go home with me tonight. Which is disappointing, but you lose absolutely nothing by asking.
And, sometimes, the philosophy leads to rather awesome outcomes. I now have my motorcycle permit after answering the question “Gee, I wonder if I could walk into the DMV and ask for a motorcycle permit today?” That was unexpectedly easy.
Some potential downsides: the guy I’ve sublet my apartment to could decide to steal all my stuff. I rate this as a 1 in 20 possibility, since writing me a check for $3000 seems like a hell of a long way to go to steal a Playstation 2 and an HP desktop from 2004. And I’ve got renters insurance.
I might not be able to do my job effectively. Could be I can’t get a reliable internet connection. Could be my boss wants to start having lots of phone conversations I can’t really afford. Could be I get distracted by lots of AWESOME in Madrid and find I can’t really convince myself to buckle down and work for six hours a day. All very possible. One in three chance, in fact, I think. Worse case scenario: I get fired. No problem. I’ve been fired and/or quit jobs before. None of these potential downsides seem to be even remotely deal breakers to me.
What’s really been scaring me lately, and I suspect is the reason I randomly decided to go back to Spain on a whim, is the thought of stagnation.
When I came back to NYC last year, the world felt full of possibility. It was as if my eyes had been opened to the potential for a more adventurous, more fun, more dangerous life than I’d ever realized existed. Little things had ceased to bother me. Deadlines. The job market. Bills. None of it. There was nothing in my life so important that it tied me permanently to one spot. I could do anything. I could go anywhere.
But six months later, I found myself in the same apartment, having watched far too much television when I should have been out in the world looking for trouble. I’d allowed myself to get comfortable, allowed patterns to set in, developed that most horrible of all medical conditions: a routine.
A routine. Beware these things. They are the most powerful, deceptive and dangerous creatures you will every encounter. They look innocuous: the same coffee vendor every morning. The same route to work. The same dinner every night. The same drinks at the same bar with the same friends every night.
Oh, but be careful. Once this seductive creature has you in its tentacles, you start to feel sleepy. So sleepy. Your eyelids flutter, you yawn, and if you do regain consciousness for a few seconds, you might suddenly find that 14 years have passed, that you’ve gotten fatter and sleepier since then, that you just want to stay in the grip of routine, comfortable and numb, until you pass painlessly into death.
And, fundamentally, if that’s your choice, there really is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of people in the world who are surrounded by loved ones, work fulfilling jobs, and have no desire to go gallivanting about creation.
It just ain’t no life for Vagabonds. And it makes for remarkably dull blogs.
I’ve got a brand new, unstamped passport that I can’t bare to let sit in my desk drawer gathering dust when it screams to be used. I’m off on another Walkabout, just because I can, because every now and then I think we may all need to, just to remind ourselves that we’re alive, that the world is bigger than we might think, that there exist other possibilities we haven’t yet explored.
I leave you with Melville.
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”