I went to the office early because I wanted to finish the writing that I should’ve done last night when I stumbled in from the pubs. Breakfast had been a posh thing of husky foods, running thick with fat. Very English, but it keeps an virulent troublemaker active when it’s this early so it serves me well. That and I love bacon.
In the silence and solitude of the office, as the sun rose over the glass building and shone into the gardens of Buckingham Palace across the street, the words flowed like free corporate cappuccinos. Feelings were stirred, memories recounted and it felt as though new life were breathed into me. There’s something about not writing for a long time that feels like toxins building up in my body. Purging the words out of me feels good the way vomiting in the middle of the night can after a night of binging with your mates at the pub.
Later now, after most people have left the glass building and the sun sets on London, tall tales and mindless adventures begin to rear their dangerous little heads and out come the words onto my keyboard.
It is a never-ending conflict with me that my mind works best in the hours of darkness but my body doesn’t much function as a nocturnal animal. Damn shame. It means I have a very short window for constructive and meaningful behavior. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time from dusk to early evening trying with no success, and so much time from late night into the early morning fighting a lapse in consciousness. Spending all of the time when I would be productive fighting the urge to sleep is not all that efficient. Those periods become either light in my fucking eyes or else pitch blackness that I cannot overcome. In between there is fertile ground from which words and sparkly things rise and flourish. The rest…well, the rest is just work.
Still, after sunset a crowd from the London office decided to prove that London is not just fun for lonely guys who wander the city with a mild limp and a taste for ale. They showed me the City and then we went to dinner in Covenant Gardens. Afterward, with families and responsibilities on their lips and sorrow in their eyes, most of them left, disappearing into the underground tube and I was left alone again, dealing with my notions and arguments of strength and weakness and wondering if I’ll ever break out of this cycle of self-destruction to which I cling with such fervor.
I wandered the streets and lost myself, which I’ve kinda gotten used to.
But wandering empty streets of London on a Thursday night is no way to escape your demons. Dark thoughts over a can of gin and tonic on the Tower Bridge evokes threads of memories and ideas that are like search lights. And it’s been two straight weeks of this reckless behavior with no pause or second thought for reflection on the reason, the purpose of it all. It tires…no, it mars the mind of a man with exhaustion and malcontent. It deconstructs molecules, it denatures proteins, it frays the cosmic strings of the personal universi in which we cohort.
Then again, so does whiskey.
But who knows, you know? I mean who knows anything at all about all this?
Yeah. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the night, when the whiskey’s gone, the gin is gone, the tonic is gone and who knows where the rum went to? All I know is that there’s still the jazz in the background and I still have the desire to put thought to paper in defiance of the heavy eyelids that so fervently insist on closing. Fuck them, by the way.
But where does that leave me? Still in London? And what does that matter?
My decidedly final vodka martini (stirred, not shaken you cliche bastards) stands on its monoped, the glass condensing in the heavy atmosphere of a hotel bar overburdened by the consciences of so many men. Many things are not as they seem.
And in the midst of it all there is this question of purpose. A familiar question, to be sure, but that doesn’t make it any less dubious or uncertain. Is this just another business trip, extended to include pleasures and copious amounts of alcohol? Was I just wandering around European countries and British Isles getting pissed and scratching out line items on a life’s version of a shit-to-do list? Was I just occupying corporate apartments and posh hotels and maintaining a close relationship with my expense account for the work’s sake or was there some higher purpose in all of this?
I thought of all the implications that this could have. Only one of them made sense.
I should move to Europe.
It could be done.
Think about it: I have the linguistic inclination. Speaking English and Spanish is half the battle. I also speak Portuguese, and from my week in Geneva, I’ve discovered that my French is not nearly as hopeless as I thought. German can’t be far off then, and if that’s true, that’s 90% of it right there. Sure, I could try and learn Italian and Hungarian, and maybe Dutch and Finnish after that, but where do you stop, right? I may as well learn Mandarin, and that’s saying something.
Obviously, I have the professional means. Working for an international power with a global reach means that moving anywhere can be dramatically facilitated if I play my cards right. I don’t even have to revert to teaching English or writing for a local paper. I can keep things steady. That’s a helluva big step.
Few other things hold me back. And these are obstacles, not hindrances; obstacles can be jumped, pushed aside or blown to smithereens. This begs the question: “Why not?”
Let’s brood on that for a sec.