Today. Wednesday. I am sitting in the cafe of a bookstore pretending I am in Paris, France. I've been there twice before. I broke my school's "buddy policy" which was never enforced and explored it myself. It was evening, rainy, I remember riding the metro and feeling a little thrill of escape- I could never come back again! But then I was robbed by the police of almost $200, and I decided maybe I wasn't ready to make a break for it in France. I was fifteen.
The man working behind the counter, an effeminate boy with an androgynous name and curly hair down to his shoulders, is telling his friend about buying rope. He is squeezing chocolate syrup in a wavy pattern across the whipped cream of her drink. "I've been saving up for it," he tells her. "A nice long length of rope."
In my head I'm thinking, he wants this rope so he can hang himself. In my ideal world, everybody is constantly saying interesting things, even if it means some of them are wanting to off themselves. But he seems perfectly cheerful, and there is such a harmless manner about him with his glasses and porcelain bone structure. "A length of rope is just a good thing to have around." His friend, a stocky girl dressed in black and wearing a horrific necklace made from a ring and two strips of leather, nods in agreement and sticks her face into the whipped cream.
"This drink is going to make me very happy." She informs him.
And then he says, "A pizza cutter is also a good investment."
***The truth is, I haven't traveled alone much, but I bet I wouldn't like it. I love myself just fine but I really, really love the people I travel with. Step across the ocean with me and instantaneously, you become more interesting and elegant, more beautiful, a better story teller, more photogenic, a better conversationalist, all sorts of things. You will become my favorite group of people in the whole world and everything we encounter is brilliant and worthy of the envy of others. This is with the notable exception of Quincy Saul and Mike Mann, who at the time of our trip to New Zealand were 16 and intolerable. By the time we made it to Mexico a few months later, we'd come up with some sort of treaty of silence and ignoring each other, and then they were alright.