Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Goddamn Squirrel

So I realised I haven't really put anything up here about my trip to Ultra Music Festival in Miami in March 2013. I don't really have much confidence in my own ability to retain any form of physical journal but I'm pretty sure google will use its overkill approach to ensure my useless data is recorded, stored and indexed for all eternity, so I'll post up a couple of things I thought about my trip. There is also another trip coming up so I am thinking about travel more and more recently.

I kept an ad-hoc diary of my exploits, and here I'll try to piece together the emails, notes, photos and facebook conversations (it's all first person current tense).

A Goddamn Squirrel.

When I get to Miami I have had a total of 6 hours sleep in the last 38. I am overdue to get dat travel lag. That's the part where people start whinging and dragging their feet, like they don't realise they are on a different landmass, like the new and wondrous surroundings take second place to their slight thirst and small discomfort. I don't understand these people. So when the front desk dude says check in isn't for another 8 hours, instead of throwing a tantrum like a predictable jetlagged moron, I decide to go down to the beach and have a sleep. There's a strange universal rule I have observed where it's fine to sleep in public under a very particular set of constraints. I seem to have a knack for naturally conforming to these unwritten rules.

I dump my bag on a sunny patch of grass, wrap my limbs through as many straps as I can, and drift off. I'm pretty sure my neck is draped directly over the hardest thing in my bag but that doesn't matter. It's a Miami kneck now. It's good. There's a certain form of serenity I get from travel where problems aren't really problems. The kind of feeling that even the most undignified public sleep cannot strip. Although my arm is dead and I have drool on my face in plain daylight in a busy park, I am in Miami now. This is Miami drool. I wear it with pride.

Rolling onto my side I drearily open my eyes to check I still have both kidneys and a bag, and there's a little flick of brown sitting right in front of me. It's not something I have ever seen before, and my sleep deprived brain does a kickflip on my crusty optic nerve before the connection is made. It's a goddamn squirrel. Oh my fucking god.

My eyes snap open and my mouth flies agape. A mouthful of until-recently captive drool flops onto my bag zipper. The brown fleck spins to face me. His body language says "You wot mate?" but his aggression is veiled in soft furry cuteness and a big bushy tail. This is no wiry furred bush rat from the gutters of Cloncurry, this is a real live squirrel. He even looks like he has been washed daily by some sort of local council tourism initiative.

Our moment lasts for an eternity and a milisecond. He has no idea where I'm from or what I'm doing here. He's just a squirrel. I'm a gigantic possible source of food or death to him. He is the coolest thing I have seen so far. He is even holding a hazelnunt. Where the hell did he get a hazelnut? What is he doing with it in front of my face? Is this what squirrels do? Taunt people with magically acquired hazelnuts?

And then he just... bounds off.

I have never in my life been able to describe a form of movement as accurately as that. Bounds off. The movement of a squirrel is nothing but bound.

With what I can only describe as dumb childish glee I flail around in my bagstraps to confirm that the squirrels visitation has been witnessed by another human. I am met with complete indifference. The runners keep running by. A group of people take turns slapping a ball over a net. The best I get is the old man in the hawaiian shirt across the park who looks up thoughtfully, accidentally makes eye contact with the obviously retarded homeless man, and frantically resumes reading his book.

After my heart extricates itself from my throat, I roll back onto my bag with a gigantic smile on my face and start drifting in and out of a hazy pre-sleep stream of consciousness.

I have always watched people from an outsiders view. They throw up so many walls in order to be acceptable to society. There is a permeating illness wherein people downplay potentially amazing things. My announcement of the total solar eclipse in 2012 was received with a condescending "oh that sounds interesting" and a swift topic change. Travel has the propensity to destroy these barriers, if people will allow it.

My motivation for travel revolves around a naive fascination for the locally mundane. Watching the local populace go about their days surrounded by amazing little things puts my own life into perspective. Maybe my job is boring and tedious, maybe my life is morose and repetetive, but maybe I'm surrounded by amazing little things that I never knew held wonder. Maybe I needed to get to the opposite side of the world to appreciate what I hated so avidly back home. Maybe it's 2pm and I should go check in.

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