1-17-04 First Trip to Europe
Flying was fine, didn’t freak out and had multiple seats to stretch out in, slept pretty well. Couldn’t believe it when I was finally just in Barcelona. Must find the fine line between freaking out and getting shit done. I’ve got a month and multiple practice opportunities and friends to help.
Progress #1: for instance I hate long paragraphs but on page 41 of the first Samuel Beckett Molloy novel I’m only on the third paragraph and I’m loving it.
Even with all the bullshit difficulties at the train station Spain doesn’t seem very foreign at all. I keep being surprised to hear Spanish being spoken.
I’m only here for a few hours but I get good beer, good coffee. I feel weird, maybe jetlag. Wandering aimless, somewhat fruitless, it’s good I have friends almost everywhere I’m going. I don’t know where to really start and get a foothold.
After taking my second shit here in Spain a dwarf came in and wouldn’t stop staring at me while a possibly retarded man peered in the bathroom.
On the train to France I guess I was rude to the conductor. He said I didn’t have a ticket to Cerbere. I tried to explain that I bought a ticket in Barcelona and the guy hadn’t given it to me. I had just woken up and maybe I was yelling. Everyone was looking at me and I felt like a dick.
There was a cute girl staring at me the most. I hoped that she was trying to flirt with me but more thought that she was trying to figure out how such a vile creature existed. Maybe I’ll figure out how girls flirt here, none of the pretty Barcelona girls seemed to notice me and my glances, also, how not to be a glaring asshole.
Calmed down in France, safe on the train waiting to leave and drinking my wine and sleeping pills. Outside it was raining and the wind was blowing it through the train station lights. I am the king.
Read, drank wine, wrote and slept good on the train. Dede wasn’t at the Paris train station but I didn’t freak out. It’s working already. Wandered around the station looking around. I had to go to three stores to get a phone card, had to go to three phones to have it work. Busker for a hostel said I should be pissed off. “Yesterday was my pissed off day” I said.
Dede showed up pretty quick and we hugged beautiful. Metro back to her place. She made me breakfast and then to bed. After a few hours we walk around. She explains that Paris is kind of lame: sexist, expensive and terrible music. We walk past Notre Dame, through a garden and along the canals. We go to a squat with 200 artists but freak out and leave. Everything’s closed on Sunday pretty much but we find a nice restaurant and eat. I’m still in kind of a daze.
Back to her house, we make plans and watch the DVD of our baseball league’s world series, bed at 10:30. Been having crazy, vivid dreams crashing down on me at too quick a rate to remember. A few details: six of my teeth fall out, see Emerson from Oklahoma running around strange city following animals and making out with girls.
Next day walked around the city alone for hours. Vague beauty, but nothing really caught my eye save signs for stores that matched the names of my friends. What had I found before in strange locales? What was I looking for?
Met up with Dede at her school. We walked to the Arc de Triumphe but you had to pay to get in so we said fuck it. Went to eat Indian food in the Passages. We went to go meet her friend Claire at a good bar in Dede’s neighborhood. Claire was British and really nice. We drank wine and talked. Dede’s great but it was nice to talk to someone else in Europe.
Claire went home and Dede was tired too but I stayed out to write, drink and explore. I went to a bar called Nun’s Café. I ordered wine and right away a guy started talking to me, Felip, a little drunk but nice. I was alone in a strange country and Dede hadn’t exactly painted the best picture fo France. I was getting ready to write “Paris is called the city of love because it’s so boring you could fall in love with a goat.” So, I was freaked out the whole time with Felip but he was a really good guy.
We talked about people and bars and politics and books and stuff. A standard bar conversation. He was spitting on me but buying me drinks.
A guy came up to me aggressively un-American but I defused him with confidence. “Fuck me for George Bush. Fuck you” I said. “George Bush is just an abstraction to you but he’s fucking with my life and my country every day. So fuck you.” It felt good but Felip apologized to him on my behalf.
Over talking to people this whole trip I gathered that the giant protests against the Iraq invasion were not covered over here. Europe thought of America as a bunch of monolithic dipshits cheering behind their leader George W. Bush. I tried to change their mind but no one believed me. I started answering “San Francisco” when people asked where I was from. This cut me some slack they wouldn’t give to other Americans.
The bar closed but Felip said he could get us some more drinks. He got us into a private party at another club. I paid for the drinks and he paid for the coat check. I couldn’t find him after I peed and I figured I’d been ripped off. I sat and finished my drink watching the hot girls and stupid dancing.
But then Felip was there and he told people that I was Peaches’ manager and the drinks were free for the rest of the night. The music got better too. I taught Felip how to hug American style. He was a quasi-road manager for the fifth biggest booking agency in France. We talked and danced. He talked about the Gus Van Sant movie Elephant and told me how it affected him because he had been fat as a kid. He told me of playing in jails with his punk band and his stories of love. He kept spitting but I still liked him a lot.
The last song of the night was “Hello” by Lionel Richie. This song has meant a lot to me for twenty years from when my sister ran out of the room crying when we were watching the video in the sixth grade to the year before while singing it at karaoke while watching a crazy queen destroy a bar with a hatchet. I thought it would be great to dance to it in Paris. I asked the three girls left if they would dance with me. I asked with innocence but they all turned me down. It would have been great.
Felip and I hugged goodbye. He said I was the first person to make him want to go to America. What a great night, total Ed style. I went and told Dede all about it.
We went to the EiffelTower the next day. In the elevator an American hippy commented on my “Drive-Thru Tree” hat. He’d driven through the tree on the way back from a Rainbow Gathering. He said the next Rainbow Gathering was going to be in the redwoods around there and how did I feel about having a bunch of hippies in my backyard. He thought I was a ranger there. He showed me the certified Italian jacket he’d bought for 35 euros the he’d have his grandfather sell for $100. I gave him a fake e-mail address.
You couldn’t see much from the top of the tower as it was foggy. Dede and I kissed as I had heard you were supposed to do.
We went to a famous church. I got clucked at for wearing my hat.
We went back and took a nap, then out for salads and drinks. We drank and talked and laughed at several bars. It was really great, Dede. We came back and had some of the best sex I’ve ever had, smooth and natural and sweet.
The next morning I was washing dishes when Dede comes back crying. She got a notice saying that her power will be cut off in 48 hours because her landlord hadn’t paid her bill. She’s freaking out. As much as I used to freak out, I have a hard time dealing with it when other people do. I hold her and let her vent and from time to time remind her that it isn’t the holocaust.
So, instead of going to Versailles as planned, we spent the day going to three different electric offices. She finally found out her landlord had paid it that day at the office right around the corner from her house. We went to go relax at a café and it worked.
We went to the Pompadou area and had giant crepes then walked around the Seine to eat some famous ice cream. We kissed on an island and held each other standing until we almost fell asleep. The art at the museum was pretty good but we were both really tired. I almost fell asleep watching a film.
We ate noodles then met Claire at a bar. After it closed we took a cab to Pulp, a lesbian bar. Right when we came in Flaming Pussy started to play. Surprisingly, they were all men playing early 90s hardcore clichés. They made us really happy for a while then they got old.
Dede and I were feeling great-kissing, talking, joking. We started talking about French men again and then it developed into where she told me her whole romantic history in detail. It was relentless. It was a real party killer. I wanted her to stop halfway through, when my empathy for the day ran out, but I couldn’t get a word in.
In the morning I was pissed off and went off on her asking her to please be more considerate. She apologized but things were uncomfortable. I felt like a dick. When I was ready to go to Belgium she stripped me naked and we made out but it was still weird.
Rode the train to Antwerp. My knowledgeable friend Nick had told me that, Antwerp specifically and, Belgium in general was the best place in Europe and that he would hook me up with his connections there. When I went to the Internet to check no dice so on to the hostel.
Things would have been perfect if the hostel was there. I was proud of myself for finding the address but the hostel no longer existed. I went to the next door restaurant/art gallery/furniture store and the guy told me that the hostel had been closed for years. He printed me out a map to another one and said it would be a short walk. He was so nice, I was excited about Antwerp.
He pointed me in a direction but the map he gave me was mostly a series of blank spots and highways with no streets corresponding to where I was. I went into a bar and asked again, the lady gave me detailed directions and said it was a ten minute walk.
I walked along the highway in the cold rain for thirty minutes. I walked through housing developments for twenty minutes more to find that the hostel wasn’t where the map said it was. I screamed but a nice lady with dogs told me where it was, right across the canal on an island. It was kind of nice with a fat cat but I had no idea why they put a hostel there.
After checking in I went into town and got off early wanting to walk around. I got to a big street where there was construction and you couldn’t cross for forever. When you could finally cross there was a cop guiding traffic. I reasonably crossed but the cop yelled at me, called me a little boy and guided me back to the other side. He said something about a stupid American to the assembled crowd. He let us cross while the light was still red and I pointed this out to him. This pissed me off way too much as these things do.
I wandered the town having been promised cool shit but couldn’t find anything but bars with nothing but old people huddled to themselves at tables. I got some writing done. Back at the hostel there were a few locals at the hostel bar. After a few beers I went to the room hoping to sleep dead but there were two roommates, both up, a black hippy and a joyless Japanese guy. One smelled of terrible b.o. and had draped his shirts on the radiators to let everyone know.
Read a little, slept like shit, again a torrent of dreams. An apocalypse, dating an older, beautiful actress (Jeanne Tripplehorn?) who whispered to me “It’s okay, I’m as old as you”. In another dream Dede was a dream girl who I couldn’t impress. I was glad to wake up and remember that we were together, even though we really weren’t. I was still unsure why she chose me when she was considered unattainable by all the boys for so long But we have great times together talking serious and funny, what more do you want? Still, I don’t think I could ever fall in love with her. That made me sad so maybe that explains the dream.
Tossed and turned with this before the dawn even broke worrying about missing check out and having to spend another day in this town. Got served breakfast by a man erupting in Flemish Tourette’s. Took the train to Bruges and at the Internet café found out that my Aunt Deb had died. I wish I had known her better. The last time I saw her was beautiful. She was already condemned but surrounded by her family’s smooth, natural appreciation for perhaps the first time in her life.
Bruges was lame, probably my fault. Once again I was starving and indecisive. Lonely Planet’s raved restaurant was not there. I wandered around the beautiful, quiet town ate a pizza baguette and saw a nice church where there were monks chanting but I couldn’t tell if they were live or not.
On to Ghent, friends and the guidebook had given me the impression that it was smaller than Bruges but it was ten times the size. I took the tram to the center square and went to the hostel sitting by the central castle.
I walked around happy, determined to have a good time. I shopped and wandered. I succumbed to the thounsandth Italian restaurant and ate good lasagna. I tried to call Andreas but the phone card didn’t work.
I started bar hopping. I went to at least ten. Nothing much happened until I got to the campus area and went to the karaoke bar. There were young girls with good voices. I put in for “Hello”. An Asian lady sang “Woman in Love” great. She was fun to watch and I was the only one who clapped. Everyone was having fun.
I sang terribly but put in for another. I can never find a song that stays in my range. I went and asked the Asian lady to take my picture as I sang. I talked to her and her friend. I sang “Take It On the Run”. The song came on right as I got to the mic and I started off too high but ended just right.
The next bar, Pinuts, was good with nice murals and people dancing on tables. I should have stayed there longer as the next bar I went to a group of girls laughed at the sight of me.
A block from the hostel I turned to look at the castle before sleep and all the sudden I was on the ground. I must have fallen off the curb. My foot felt weird but I made it to the bed.
I woke up and knew right away I had to go to the hospital. I hobbled down the stairs and had the girl at the desk call me a taxi.
The hospital was quick and kind of the best part of the day. I was pretty sure it was no big deal, a bruised bone like I’d gotten before. The doctor looked at my foot and gave me an x-ray. Everyone in Belgium I’d met spoke perfect English except the doctor who accentedly struggled out “Your foot is . . . busted”. I took this to mean fractured. He said I would be better in 3-4 days of rest. He gave me shit about George Bush while he wrapped my foot then he was surprised that I wouldn’t really walk on it. Then he shrugged. I was the only one in the Emergency Room and all the staff lined up to wave goodbye to me as I hopped out the automatic door. I kept thinking they would say something else (like “here’s some crutches”) but they didn’t.
I got a cab back to the hostel, the pharmacy and the train station. I got a ticket and hobbled to the platform. I could kind of walk on the back of my bad foot. People kept staring at me but no one offered to help.
On the train a kid told me that I was at the wrong station but found out I was at the right one as we were leaving. I was pissed off but the train across the platform was going the right way right away, and with more hobbling I was able to make the transfer.
The train was the train-reading, sleeping, thinking about being able to really walk again in 3-4 days.
In Munich I still couldn’t get a hold of Andreas. Went and emailed Andreas’ friend Curt who was my roommate and friend and got some phone numbers. Called a guy Patrick who didn’t want to deal with me at all. Went to a hostel, checked in and had a few beers there before I went to bed.
Went to a hostel and had a few beers before I went to bed. In the morning had breakfast and still no word of Andreas. An American girl at the hostel see my hobbling and says “Dude, you need some crutches.” She’s right. I get in a taxi to a hospital.
It turns out it’s the hospital where Curt, a doctor, did his residency. I slept on a bed there for hours waiting for a doctor. She finally came and sent me off for more x-rays. She made me walk. The x-ray guy was a dick.
Afterwards I finally got a hold of Andreas. He said he and our friend Eva would be there in 30-45 minutes.
The doctor came in and said the fracture was worse, that the doctors in Belgium were wrong about not giving me crutches and being better in a matter of days. She showed me the before and after x-rays and you could see how the fracture had widened. I could either get a cast or go right in for surgery. I chose the cast and to come back in a week to see if I needed surgery or not.
After I was all wrapped up I called Andreas again and he had thought I had said “hostel” instead of “hospital”. He would be right over. It was good to see Andreas and Eva when they arrived thirty minutes later. We called a cab and went to Andreas’. I got my first taste of climbing his four flights of stairs on my euro-style crutches with the handles jutting out instead of the armpit support.
P. Nicky had dumped Eva the night before. I sat and tried not to freak out about my own problem throbbing at the end of my leg. I talked to Curt on the phone and he told me to “drink a lot of Jager, it fuses the bone.”
The next day I went on my own to get my prescriptions. It was really hard. Everyone stared at me, maybe it was the giant orange jacket and crazy sweating. Andreas’ friend Andy came over and we watched the baseball DVD.
The next day I went to the Turkish restaurant across the street but it was too icy to walk much further. I ate shit on the ice three or four times anyway. Got great emails from friends missing me and sending love.
The next day I cooked garlic pasta and took a little walk but it was still too icy. That night was my first night out. Andreas and I had some beers, did some coke and set off. It was a lot better to walk with someone else. It kept me going and Andreas was very kind. We walked to the Metro, two different trains and then to the bar.
I was a little too coked up and it took me two beers to relax. We met Andy and his Portuguese co-worker, P-Nikki even came. That night was the season finale of the German version of “The Bachelor” and everyone was talking about it. Music was good at the start but quickly turned euro.
We took off for another bar. P-Nikki threw snowballs at me as I was walking on crutches on the ice, fucking great guy.
This bar was like a cozy living room. Andreas and I really bonded then, drunk, we got into the cab. Andreas and Andy were stumbling but carried me up the stairs. It was scary and fun.
Next day my mood matched the heavy snow. Didn’t go out but practiced crutches around the house and twice up and down the stairs, all while listening to Dolly Parton read her autobiography on my Walkman. People asked why I was taking that on my trip but man did it pay off. Can’t think of anything else that would have been so sweet and inspirational.
Shayna’s brother Evan showed up after getting kicked off his free Jew trip to Israel for getting a terrible tattoo in Tel Aviv. It was a box on his arm that said “Place tattoo here” next to it. Evan and I went to the DeutschMuseum. It was described in the guidebook as a cross between Disneyworld and the Smithsonian, but it was pretty crappy. Half the exhibits where you push a button and it does something didn’t work. They had a wheelchair for me though, that was a nice change.
This trip was farther than I’d ever gone on my bum foot. I was pretty crapped out at the end, especially my right calf. Evan brought me Turkish sandwiches and beer. We were already a little drunk when Andreas got home from work.
They got me more beer and took off. I was too wrecked from the day’s efforts to go. I hadn’t even walked a mile. I drank the beer and wrote e-mails, read Travels With Charley and watched some TV. I was cozy in bed at 10:30.
I heard Andreas and Evan come in at 4:30. They had gone to a dozen bars. Evan threw up and Andreas almost got in a fight. I was glad they had had a good time.
P-Nikki came at one the next afternoon to take Evan and I to the Bavarian castles. We decided that the one on the island in the lake would be best for cripple me. We set of in P. Nikki’s mommy’s BMW. Evan was still drunk. The countryside was beautiful. We smoked a joint. P. Nikki was going so fast that the car was shaking. He only had one tape and it was Vanilla Ice. Evan and I kept giving each other looks of fear until finally I told him to slow the fuck down in the snow.
Got to the ferry station too late for the castle but time enough for a boat ride. We drank beers on the top deck and smiled as we rode around for an hour. This is the place where King Ludwig’s castle is where you can supposedly ride swan boats in the pond in the basement that was built to stage Wagner operas. Now I’ll never know.
We asked P. Nikki to drive us around the small towns because we wanted to eat a place that reminded us of the Prancing Pony from Lord of the Rings. It took us a while to find one. P. Nikki made a big show of ordering all these sausages and puddings for us. Mine was good but Evan got blood and liver sausages and went outside to throw up in the snow.
Rode home quiet and stoned. Andreas wasn’t home but P. Nikki knew where he hid the keys. TV, beer and more pot. P. Nikki asked for the remote and when I wouldn’t give it to him he left. I stayed up reading and writing, waiting for Andreas till 3:30 like a shut in.
Next day I finally cut off my pants and washed them. That night we watched TV waiting for the Super Bowl. It never came on but the kickboxing was good. Also they showed the Lingerie Bowl-girls in lingerie playing shortened football to 100 dipshits at the L.A. Coliseum.
Evan and I went to the hospital the next morning to see if I needed surgery or not. I had to pay before my appointment. Andreas had kept saying it was going to be really expensive but wouldn’t get specific so I was thinking that it would be tens of thousands of dollars. It turned out to be only a hundred euro but the cashier lady and I were still yelling at each other. I was stressed out worrying about my x-ray results.
Got my x-rays and waited for the results. I slept while Evan ran out of book to read. The end was a doctor coming in and merely saying I was okay. It was anti-climactic but I was still psyched. I hadn’t been able to bring myself to picture what the surgery and recovery would have been like.
Found Evan and we walked out of the hospital with the wheelchair. He really wanted to and I indulged his 21 years of age and my own dreams of leisure. Later Andreas said he would sell the wheelchair for 200 Euros and split the money with us.
It was our last night. With the wheelchair we went out. Before we left we smoked too much pot and listened to the Prima Donnas. First to a “punk” club, it was downstairs and terrible-the music and the vibe. It seems like Germans’ aesthetic doesn’t mature after they turn eighteen and it’s not a good eighteen. This includes listening to Korn and Ugly Kid Joe.
We went to a bunch of other bars and between each one Evan and Andreas took turns pushing me in the wheelchair way too fast. I spilled twice, once by each of them slamming me into a curb.
At the bars American expatriates kept coming up to us and talking. They were all jerks even though some of them bought me shots. It seems like being an American expatriate has gone from being an elite ideal to a pathetic reality. “I can’t make it in America, so I’ll go where people will be impressed by my outgoingness but will only understand half of what I’m saying and not be able to figure out that I’m really a rich dumbass.”
A German started playing an accordion and a customer played along with trumpet. It was wonderful but the douche American of the moment kept talking to me saying “Isn’t this great? I found this place by myself. It’s like it was fifty-sixty years ago.”
“Yeah” I said, “This song is called ‘Grab the Jew by the Hair’.”
Next day was Evan and I’s last day. I felt eager to get out of Andreas’ hair but he seemed to not want to part. We went to a sports bar by the train station and ate good food and they played “Son of My Father”. It was nice, these last moments. Hugs and goodbyes. They were great but I longed to feel that I was only my own burden, at least for two days.
Train ride was nice with just me and a nice Irishman reading The Seat of the Soul in my bunkroom. The next morning in Paris I had to ask around to figure out that I have to take the Metro to another station for my Bordeaux train. I walked down stairs and long hallways. On the Metro everyone’s staring at me but no one would give me a seat until I yelled “Give me a fucking seat or I’m going to fall on you”.
Got to Bordeaux and felt pretty good. I actually made it. I went to my hotel and walked up the three flights of stairs. Checked my email and talked to Dede on the phone. She didn’t seem too excited and it kind of bummed me out.
I took a bus around town. I was here because Shayna lived here for a year. It’s a nice town, kind of reminded me of Guanajuato. Ate and got supplies for the night.
I heard “Angie” in a brasserie in Bourdeaux. Sweaty, sore, freaked out and broken footed but one thing that made me happy was the fact that this toxic friend’s no longer in my life. I finally did it. They also played “Don’t Make Me Over”.
The dogs of Europe are very well disciplined, because of this they can go anywhere. They don’t beg, they almost don’t seem like dogs at all.
Settled into my room for a great night of writing, reading, wine and cigarettes. Woke up bummed with first real European hangover, fucking 2 Euro wine. Took forever to get motivated, dreading putting on Mike’s fucking puffy ass orange jacket. Went out and checked e-mails. Well wishes from home made me strong.
Heading toward the train station I was happy to notice that people smiled in Bordeaux and helped me with doors. It was good to see a nice side of France after the uniform snotty-gloom of Paris. Maybe it’s stupid to say but part of me being happy is everyone else being happy. That’s what I was yelling at New Year’s in Oklahoma so many years ago. There’s nothing wrong with everyone having a great year. It seems like kindness can win. Why not?
It started in Antwerp when Nick didn’t send me his friend’s information. The feeling that there’s a great thing out there but I don’t have the knowledge or instinct, or capability now with my broken foot, to find it. In America I’ve almost always found the good time. Now I can only hope that great times are blaring and within three blocks.
Got on the train and eventually woke up in Barcelona. Spanish people seem much nicer than German and French people. Not as many stares and people like to help. I ate shit and fell backwards on the metro and everyone in the car rushed to help prop me up. I love you Spain! Got a hotel and washed up as I could, excited to see Dede.
She came, we kissed. We went out for dinner at a nice vegetarian place I had found for her. Spanish food is bland and the portions are too small. We went to a good bar with hip-hop playing. After a drink we went back to mess around and rest up.
The hotel wasn’t that good but Dede found us a better one. Walking to it my hands started to hurt from the crutches. This just got worse and worse until eventually I couldn’t move my fingers very well and I had to rest my hands more than anything else. Dede kept getting annoyed at this as we tried to go bar hopping the next couple of nights.
We switched hotels again. This hotel had a tiny bathtub and Dede was very excited to give me a bath in it. I reluctantly submit to her dirty mothering.
By then I had realized the pattern-Dede is all crazy about me in the hotel, she even told me she loved me, but seems annoyed with me everywhere else. Finally, after a dinner we’re talking nice but then her pout sets in. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with this night, with nights in general. I’m having a good time and want to stay out. We establish that we’ll split up-she’ll sleep and I’ll go out and explore, at least read and write. We establish that were not angry at each other but we were.
We were coming from different perspectives. This was Dede’s fifth or so time in Europe whereas this trip made me the first person in my family to go here. I would most possibly never be able to go again while I’m sure she was certain she would do this every five years for the rest of her life. Also, my style was coming from the relative safety of my gender and stature. This enabled me to do what I loved-explore alone. Dede offered no alternative save sleep. She was 22.
Went to some bars by myself and hung out with Spanish old men. On my way home my hands started to hurt and I dove into a, hated by me, English Pub to rest. The limeys there wouldn’t leave me alone. They talk about how they had the meal of their lives at the Hard Rock Café. They’d been to America but only Orlando.
They left and, when we were alone, the cute bartender flirted with me, real chemistry. I wanted to jump up and kiss her. She was from Vancouver but had never been to America. When I left she told me she was working the next night and that I should stop by.
Had a good talk with Dede when I got back but can’t really remember what was said. It was nice being open and honest and late-night eloquent. At least that’s how I remember it.
The next day Dede and I went our separate ways. I went to some museums, drank coffee and watched skateboarders and dogs. One of the exhibits was on African photography and they had a timed slideshow playing a summary of the show plus others. I found this really powerful, having a limited time to take in the pictures. I shuddered at some of the slides as they appeared.
Had dinner with Dede and then we tried a bar again, this time with better music-Rolling Stones and T. Rex. I was just getting excited when Dede got tired. Funhouse came on and I told her I was staying but I limped her to a cab.
Alone, I briefly thought of going to see the Canadian girl but just write. This is probably the closest I’ve gotten to cheating in my life and Dede wasn’t even techinically my girlfriend. Then I met some nice guys, Finnish and Belgian. They bought me drinks and got me high. They really liked me. As I was getting a cab they asked if I was coming back the next night. I said maybe and they said “Okay, what time?”
Next day Dede and I went to the ContemporaryArt Museum. Only one floor of the museum was open but they had a wheelchair for me. Dede really wanted to push me but I wouldn’t let her, I wanted to guide myself. Samuel Beckett’s Film was my favorite. I realized after reading three of his books in a month I still wanted more from him.
Outside were skateboarders. One of them fell and had a big seizure. I hobbled over and told the security guard. We split ways again and I headed to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia but they didn’t let people with crutches in. I sat in the park across the street and leered at it as I ate ice cream and smoked cigarettes.
That night after a great meal we found ourselves at a Moroccan bar. It started mellow and we were having good conversation. Then the DJs started and they were playing great Moroccan music and the place filled up with people dancing. I too was chair dancing and head-bobbing as hard as I could. I thought this was something that Dede and I could agree on and I could show her the value of going out and exploring. We had met at great shows like this. But, no, she was tired and wanted to go home. I told her this was the best and I was staying. She made me walk her through the super crowded dance floor and I ruined everyone’s moves. Halfway through the floor the Finnish and Belgian guys from the night before saw me. “Ed, isn’t this awesome?”
“Yeah, I’ll be back in a second.”
Outside Dede pouted while I tried to quickly get her a cab. Back inside my seat was taken and I wasn’t about to go through the dancefloor again for nothing. I found a seat at the bar where you couldn’t hear the music as well and stewed. Five minutes before I had been having such a great time and was exactly where I wanted to be. My new friends stopped by and we had drinks and I felt a little better.
The next day I went by myself to the aquarium. They had a wheelchair for me and I only got jammed up a couple of times on the mechanized track through the fish tube. Afterwards, I sat on the shore and smoked while I jealously watched children swim in the February Mediterranean.
Next day was my last and we just wandered around the Ramblas. At one point we were both checking our email and she saw that I was writing an email to Curt with the subject heading “Babysitting in Barcelona”. She asked what that was about and I made up some lie about how it was about these kids I had seen at the aquarium the day before. I don’t think she exactly believed me but we were kind of at a lifestyle stalemate that would only last another day, this time.
The next morning as I was packing up San Francisco’s beginning practice of gay marriage came on on CNN. Dede and I had our awkward goodbye, there wasn’t much to say, and I eagerly hobbled away for my long trip back to San Francisco where history was happening.