Is a question a friend posed to me recently. Kansas, I thought immediately. Or the time I was working in Mexico and found myself thrown out of Club Palladium in Acapulco for puking on the dance floor, and then telling the taxi driver I wanted to go to the Casa de las mujeres, which in my inebriated state I assumed he would understand as *Strip Club*. As we made our way through the obviously non-tourist areas of the city I started to sober up. When we stopped at a convenience store and the driver returned with a pack of condoms, I began to question my journey. When we pulled up on a villa with armed guards and I was escorted near a pool where, to my amazement, I was asked cual quieres by the owner/resident of the villa as he nodded at a group of clearly younger girls in bikinis anxiously tapping their feet. Realizing quickly what I had gotten myself in to, I knew I had to get out of there…fast. Weighing my options I chose a girl. We made our way back to the cab and whisked quickly off to my hotel. I was informed the various prices for the sundry of services my selection provided, and suddenly my plan was clear. I informed the driver that I only had my debit card and would need to withdraw money from an ATM. After feigning a defective card, the driver accepted my insinuation that there was plenty of cash in my hotel room. Immediately upon arriving to the entrance of my hotel, I jumped out of the car and ran past the guards in to the safety of my hotel-or so I thought. The driver ditched the girl and followed me right in to the lobby of my hotel. As he was rather portly in a Carlos Mencia kind of way, I was able to beat him up the stairs and in to my room. He finally located my room (to this day I’m still not sure how…) and proceeded to pound on my door for the next 20 minutes. Perhaps assuming he had the wrong room, he finally left. That may have been the worst, but Kansas is pretty bad too.
“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, There is rapture on the lonely shore, There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea and the music in its roar; I love not man the less, but Nature more.” — Lord Byron
I didn’t fit their mold, and they didn’t fit mine. As I sauntered through the cavernous walkway to reach the open bar, a guitarist’s sweet melody guided me on my journey. It didn’t take long for the glances to shift in my direction-who was I? I, in my unpressed khaki pants, mismatched Neiman Marcus pullover covered with a black vested over-jacket. If not my obvious lack of fashion sense, perhaps it was the bandana still covering the majority of my face after masterfully protecting me from the onslaught of aeriel insect artillery, the same battle I find myself in each time I take my scooter for a spin-something must have inspired their inquisition.
It didn’t matter-The marbled 12oz Ribeye in a soy-ginger glaze paired with delicately steamed carrots instantly made my mouth water. Or maybe it was the chunky freshly mashed potatoes-but to be honest, it was probably the several New Belgium Fat Tires I managed to inhale while waiting on my feast. I slowly intoxicated myself with the flavorous feast and trendy craft beer and suddenly, I’d reached that perfect level of clarity and “don’t give a fuck” that allows you to sit back and really focus. It didn’t matter who I was, I would in all likelihood never see the rowdy old group of lawyers working themselves into a sweat trying to impress the obviously younger and…clearly uninterested group of women celebrating a bachelorette party-or favorable alimony decision. This realization was one I probably should have made quite some time ago but for whatever reason didn’t dawn on me until I found myself baby faced but not ID’d eating a surprisingly well cooked steak at an upscale seafood restaurant in a college town. I hope to carry this sense of freedom and spontaneity with me on my future travels-namely my upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest. I have yet to visit this area outside of airports and shuttles between cheap hotels-the perfect opportunity for me to reinvent myself and find the inner peace that has remained so elusive and so desired. Happy travels.
It isn’t my real name, but one I’ve always answered to. To be honest, I can’t truthfully say I remember the first time I was called it-it, like myself, has simply always been there. Few things in life are as constant as the names we are given or choose to assume. Like the trading cards of our youth, relationships and jobs come and go-so to do the rest of the myriad things and ways we trivialize our time with. Our worries today will be tomorrow’s accomplishments-the very chair I find myself in presently will one day be reduced to nothingness.
One constant that has remained in my life however, has been the desire to travel. I have been fortunate enough to traverse the world and experience a portion of the many things gifted to us by this planetary wonder called Earth. I’ve crossed the Avenue of the Dead to stand atop the Pyramid of the Moon and felt the Empire’s blistering sun beat down upon my back as I made my way across it’s Great Wall-and yet I still feel as though I’ve just taken my first steps outside the backyard. Pablo Picasso once said “Action is the foundational key to all success”, and act I intend to do. I am Niko and this is my journey.