Pedro Ávila

Fortunately, the afternoon was dark and threatened rain on that day when the clocks went back. I went from bar to cafe, from church to lounge, reading my books, writing my words. The body was not hung over, but the mind was acting as if it thought it should be.

Inside an English pub I heard the jeers and cheers that were probably attributable to a football game of some kind. The bright light of a tourist’s camera flashed against a store window and slapped me across the face. The day was not making a whole lot of sense to me but at least it was confounding me in a way that was not insulting, however intrusive. It was letting me know I could keep on walking. I did.

In general, it was a wasted day whose sole purpose was to be wasted, falling into reality, or else climbing back into it, depending on how you judge the debauched fun that our merriment last night produced.

For a party of 8 people, it was one hell of a party. Sure, the Dutch don’t really do Halloween, and sure, they won’t all necessarily come just because you invite them 3 months in advance. And they don’t all dance forro. But I do dammit, and I wanted a damn Halloween party nonetheless. And if I’d had to decorate my own apartment and stock my own fridge and paint my own damn nails black, I would have.

Thankfully, there was help. There was a moment though, after all the decorations had gone up and the nails were black and the costume was ready and a couple of drinks had even already been poured when I stood and waited. Nothing left to do, nothing left to plan, just wondering, doubting, me and the empty living room.

“Well, living room, I guess even if no one shows up, it’s been one hell of an afternoon, eh?” It doesn’t respond, as living rooms hate idle chatter. Also, living rooms can’t talk.

“You know, ‘room, it’s been a strange trip, so far, this moving abroad thing. Why am I doing this? What do I want to get out of it? I can’t really say — getting something out of it was never a goal I’d thought about, you know?” It knows.

“Was it adventure? Was it style? Was it accents? Shit, it could have been for the accents. Sometimes I’m just shallow like that. Yeah, it’s best that you don’t respond to that any how. Pretend I didn’t say that.

“But that doesn’t matter; this move, it was never a means. I wasn’t running, toward or away from anything. I just needed for this to happen or something. The horizon is always my end; it’s always my means too. What does that say about me?”

“You know, living room, you’re a great listener and you hold a lot of answers, but your public speaking skills leave a whole lot to be desired.

“Anyway, maybe I should clarify, because there’s got to be a root cause. There’s always a root cause in informational science and this is definitely informational. Why am I always seeking to be different, to stand out? I don’t like attention; so why do it?

“Now pay attention, because this is the important part. I think what it amounts to is that I like the attention that I give myself. I like the self-admiration that I feel when I do something I know is original. Something that validates – to me – that I’m an intelligent dude and that I know what’s up. Does that make sense? Is self validation a legitimate vice in vanity?”

It’s a good thing the doorbell rang just then, because I wouldn’t have known how to explain it better if the living room hadn’t understood, and then it would’ve gotten awkward.

And after that? After that we danced. My pirate costume was better than ever thanks in no small part to the gloriously cool initiative of my good friend, Clair, who had the insight, the drive and the initiative to consider that most of my pirate gear did not make it onto the “Pete’s Life: Volume I” box in the move to Amsterdam. Not only did she think of this, she then goes out and gets me some pirate gear and proceeds to send said pirate gear clear across the Atlantic.

Clair, are you listening? I had already promised you a beer next time I see you – are you ready for this?

Are you ready?

2 beers.

There, I said it. I give; I’m just like that.

[Clair will have my head for that, so I hope you’re all entertained; it probably cost her, like, 200 mangoes just to ship the thing!]

Seriously, it made my costume come to life. It’s not that I’m not really a pirate, I just have a hard time looking like one. But with a dagger that has phrases written on it like

  • May she carry the swift and the beating heart of worthy men…
  • Bring me that horizon, drink up me hearties, YO HO!
  • We are the beaches of Normandy the night before
  • Douchebag fender-offer

well, then you’re all pirate. Black fingernails and eye-shadow just don’t hurt, know what I mean?

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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