Yes, I’m still on the New Year’s holiday, I have a lot of catching up to do with my mental diarrhea so sit down and strap in.
I got to thinking with my initial post on the New Year’s holiday, I sounded probably like the single most boring person at the turn of the New Year and possibly embittered by the years of coma-inducing functions I’ve had to endure for this particular holiday. Which probably has some merit, but I have had my fair share of good experiences too. I’ve never had that stereotypical watch the ball, drink champagne and kiss a future regret kind of New Year, but I’ve had some interesting ones. I got to thinking about which one I would consider the most interesting and it would definitely be the one I spent in Sweden.
At the age of 19, I decided I wanted to spend a month in Germany and Sweden. I’d done a few summers of foreign exchange and has made quite a few friends there and they helped me do a lot of the reservation making… i.e. the student I stayed with got in touch with the lady in town who ran and a bed and breakfast and got me an astounding deal. Friends are awesome. I worked and saved for over a year so I could go.
I also had a Swedish friend who was an exchange student at my high school a few years back (yes, amazingly even my backwoods hillbilly high school was big enough to warrant exchange programs), we’d stayed in touch with what is today an archaic form of communication requiring a light thin paper-substance and long thin cylindrical tube that held a dark liquid funneled down to a pin-size point and with your hand, would make legible symbols on the paper called “cursive.” It would then be encased in a thicker paper made for holding, and navigational instructions had to be imprinted on them and then dropped in a large blue vessel where I’m sure magical fairies or the Doctor transport it to its destination within weeks (adventure always calls the Doctor and he’s only timely when he wants to be)!
My goal was to spend Christmas in Germany and New Year’s in Sweden. One of my friends from school went with me, they knew only basic German, but loved the people and culture so much they were thrilled to be going. I made arrangements to see everyone, let them know my itinerary and had one of the best adventures to celebrate the last of my teen years.
This is the point where I have to stop and let you imagine the two travelers. The grunge era was full on during these years, so our possession of flannel and black was not to be underestimated. My traveling companion was a narcoleptic. Not actually, but I’m pretty sure they could have given one a run for their money on how adept they were at sleeping anywhere and through anything. I, however, am one of those people who cannot sleep when on a plane, even with high power tranquilizers in my system. I don’t like the fact I don’t know who’s driving and I think there is an entirely different reason they call it a “cockpit,” and “ensuring passenger safety” just does not seem synonymous. Downing an 8-ball and having a fuckfest during an 8 hour plane trip just seems more likely.
I’m a nervous flyer.
When my sleepy sidekick would wake up, I would proceed to introduce them to the other non-sleepers I’d talked to while trying to keep my mind off what might be going on at the front of the plane. I probably introduced them to close to half the plane over the course of the trip. My sidekick found my energy even more exhausting.
The weeks in Germany were out of a Grimm fairy tale without the macabre, which I could have found disappointing if it hadn’t been for the discovery of the Christmas market and “schneeballen.” Fried pastry, powdered sugar, what’s not to love? I will likely expand on the surreal aspects of that at a later date, but for now, its about New Year’s, baby.
By then, my German was strong enough to be pretty fluent, with some noun and verb slip-ups that my German cohorts groomed me through, so I was also getting rapidly better. I didn’t know a lick of Danish or Swedish though, so I was understandably nervous when I was on a train heading through Denmark and trying to decipher the signs and what was being said over the loudspeaker.
I suppose this is also the point I should mention we had befriended a person on the train the night before and we had proceeded to spend most of the night slamming down 2 liters of vodka straight… and chocolates… sadly, it was all we had for food among us (I was the carrier of the vodka, I always carried liquor & water wherever I went…yes, I find these essential survival items). I became very intimate with the train’s commode afterwards. I still send it thank you cards.
My cohort, proving once again how adept they are at sleeping, also slept through their own retching while I was loving the porcelain goddess in the WC. I spent the better part of that fine morning cleaning them, the car and finding out just how strong a gag reflex I have. They woke up finally a couple hours later wondering how they had become changed. I told them about what they slept through but I went on to embellish that I’d strip them naked and left them in the hall until I cleaned the car up. But it was fine since they were only fondled a little bit, a small squad of tourists had taken pictures and I’d made about $20 bucks from it. Yes, I’m an asshole but they earned it. And no, I didn’t really do that but I sure as hell didn’t admit I didn’t either.
By the time I reached Denmark, I was pretty dehydrated, hungover, a little nauseated, dragging the narcoleptic behind me and hungry as hell but with a permanent burning smell of retched vodka stabbing in my nose and my memory hard enough to make the idea of eating unbearable. I’d bathed us both in the only scent-creating liquid I could find considering we had no shower access, which happened to be a small bottle of patchouli. This only added an eau de’ pothead stench to the vodka, vomit and regret we already had going for us.
I thought I heard the name of the city to which we were heading on the loudspeaker and was heading to the numbered gate mentioned, but a nearby Dane grabbed me by the collar and just sort of rerouted by steps to another train with a “that’s the one you want.”
Apparently, my speculations on where we were and needed to go had been out loud the entire time. My sidekick had also taken to randomly singing “My Girl” Nirvana style and rocking back and forth whenever we sat down. I think they were still somewhat asleep and drunk. I was so relieved this fellow got us in the right direction, I would have hugged him if I hadn’t stunk so bad from the aftermath of the night before. Instead, I’m pretty sure I just awkwardly stood there for a few minutes and stared at him with the kind of dead longing stare usually seen only in B-movie horror films and freshly hazed substitute teachers about to snap. I finally squeaked out a raspy “thank you” and dragged my singing cohort the way he’d pointed us.
Did you know the train to Sweden boards a ferry? It does. It’s awesome…. if you’re sober. Even on that big a boat, I could feel every single rocking motion…
It wasn’t until I saw my old friend at the train station that I finally relaxed. My voice was so sore by that point, I couldn’t call out to him. My semi-lucid sidekick whom I’d not been able to have a coherent conversation with since the previous night seem to finally understand what my voice was trying to accomplish and quickly boomed out the name I’d been trying to say.
By the time we got to his apartment, narco conked out for the next 12 hours and I think I dozed off in the nearest chair whilst trying to catch up with my Swedish friend. I think he forgave me considering the funk cloud surrounding us. When I got some rest, a really thorough shower and a ton of liquid, I was finally able to explain to him why we arrived at his threshold in such shabby condition. It was polite of him not to laugh as hard as he seemed to want to, I wonder if that’s a cultural thing?