Pedro Ávila

They say you should never drink alone, which is why I always order TWO drinks.



SFO to SNA: John-motherfucking-Wayne airport in Santa Ana. A windless quiet and complete solitude over the mighty Pacific and the California coastline, all through window 1A of first class…I guess there are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon but only because I could be at the back of the plane paying for my drinks.

Oh god. It’s a new day only in the sense that the sun set last night and rose in the morning. Other than that, I’ve prodded along the same sterile hallways in the hours of day and the same lamp-lit streets when I should’ve been asleep. Producing seems to be a thing of the past but I must, must get out of this slump.

At least a night with the illustrious brother Shakib opened some windows into the metaphorical light, but the day is essentially unchanged. I-5 moves through the LA basin like a lamppost: straight and not at all. But all the driving, the traffic, the stop and the go, and sheer mass of vehicles wearies a soul and opens up all kinds of evil doors to dark thoughts…who knows, friends? Maybe it’s a tunnel with some light at the end…but who knows how deep the hole goes before something happens?

Oh well. Dwelling on the dark is so last month. I’m surviving, which is what’s important, right? I’m still here, with possibilities and potential at my fingertips, twenty-something and full of lucid stupidity and wit, bound by nothing but time and dollars, and they’re sure to be coming at me soon, fast and hard, like excuses during midterm exams.

Are you still comparing things to college?

What? No. Only a jackass would do that. I am telling a story here and it’s more or less coming together. In the meantime, like I said, I survive. Even in the OC. A strict regiment of Thai food and bagels along with at least 6 hours of sleep and 90 minutes of hard exercise per day is slowly bringing me to levels of consciousness attributable to a human. I was functioning with one foot in another dimension there for a while, another plane of existence or something…I mean seriously — 4 hours of sleep, boiled meat/fried fish and chips and no exercise but the constant walking on a sprained ankle for four or five hours a night, not to mention the ghastly amounts of hand-pumped cask ale I was drinking were making me question my very humanity. On the other hand, it was all for a higher purpose and worth every second of misery I may have experienced across the pond. And that’s what it’s all about, kids: experience. It builds character.

Recent thoughts and conversations have leaned towards this…tendency, I guess. It’s not so much a theme as much as it is a trend of bending any discussion I’m involved in to turn to the one thing I don’t want to think about.

It’s been far too long, and although it would be easy to say “I’ve been busy” or to utter the other usual mediocre words people choose to formulate excuses, they’re just that: excuses. These days abroad have shed some light on a complicated little facet of life between cultures. It occurs to me that it’s not so much that I have a foot in both camps, but rather like not having a foot in any camp at all.

The way I see it, the problem is a matter of self-image, of pertinence, of identity. Examine where my loyalties lie, in order of importance:

  • Family
  • Earth

It’s missing some critical junctures, don’t you think?

I had this thought the other day whilst thinking about war. You know who I’d kill for? You know who I’d go to war for, fight for, or give a shit about? Family. You see what I’m saying? I don’t think you do, yet.

Here’s the thing: there’s no city to which I feel tied, no state I feel duty-bound to defend. No way of life except mine. It’s all just land and water to me, with different plants and mountains and a variety of vermin infesting all of it. Principles matter to me much more than does dirt. Terra. And that’s the other one on the list, right? Earth is a great planet (definitely the best inner planet) and if I were in some kind of mid-space truck stop and heard non-Terrans talkin’ shit, it wouldn’t stand. I might do the same for California if I were in a pub in London and heard some dude from upstate New York slobbering a lot of gibberish about New York being better…

But that’s about it.

So when I walk into a foreign place and hear the voices and the words in their strange tongues and they are laying the proverbial smack-down on that American man, the machine of war that is the current administration, the insolent loudmouths that turn the lights on in the middle of the night in hostel dorm room their mothers paid for…well, I’m not the right person to be repping’ that.

Fuck it.

If the Swiss exchange student in dreads wants to say that Americans are obnoxious servants of the ignorance they practically package because fools are lining up for the culture they’re selling, he’ll get no argument from my end of the table. If he wants to say that George Bush AND John Kerry are both puppets of evil incarnate and no more intelligent or independent than the average galvanized nail, I will be buying the next round of drinks. Hell — if he wants to say that Brazilians are lazy & corrupt, hell, we’ll down ‘em all, ‘cause it’s all true. I mean… shit. I revel in amazement, and only because I am tied to my own cultures solely via the past. Besides that, I’m with them.

I don’t know. My insolence is usually a bit much for people to feel completely comfortable around me. But I, too, have been occasionally known as a nice guy. People are — apparently — fooled, at least to some extent.

Maybe that’s the “why” around this urge to get the hell outta Dodge…there’s nothing specifically tempting about this place. Don’t get me wrong: California is a hell of a place and there are few other places you’d find me putting down roots in the long scheme of things; San Francisco in particular is a difficult place to leave. But the fact of the matter is that I have no history holding me to this place, so there are memories but no substance. And I’m just jonesin’ to fill in that empty space while it lasts, before I become some cynical old madman, weary of the freedoms of the world.

Ahh, dammit. In retrospect I should’ve know it was a terrible idea, reading my old journal from New Zealand. I shouldn’t have overlooked the obvious repercussions that the writing and re-writing of those posts from NZ would have had. Now the damage is done.

But I guess you adapt to things. You do it relatively slowly, and you usually only complain when you can’t keep up with the changes, with the moving of the cheese, or whatever. I had adapted well to not being 23, to not being 23 and on the road with nothing but my pack, beard and compadres. Then I toseds myself into not just my memory but the lucid words from my own mind. I spat it into the wind and got it right in the face.

And now? Shit. Now I need some leverage.

Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


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