4th Sept 2013
Of the last 24 hours of my life, there has been a few things which will stick in my mind for a little while. The first was the moment I drove on the public highway outside of the UK for the first time; a blacked-out seventy thousand dollar Chevy Tahoe with a U-haul trailer attached, pulling out of a service station god-knows-where USA.
Lets just spend a second appreciating this car. As a self-confessed car geek, this was an absolute dream come true. A free ride in the ultimate American motor – a Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ, a top-of-the-range, brand new V8 powered middle-fingered salute to the environment; a five point seven liter pointless extravagance with an automatic gearbox and every conceivable extra you can think of. In the back, the seats were folded down and there was a priceless piece of art which our boss Ron had bought from New York in an auction of some kind. Somehow, we were the best people to transport it – I like being trusted with things, although to be fair I had spend the summer driving the dude’s speedboats so I hope I’d built some sort of rapport.
The second was the moment we stopped at a gas station to fuel the beast and Robson asked some poor lady ‘which state are we in’ and her response came ‘Noowerf Carroliyner’ (roughly translates to North Carolina) as if we should have already known. How the hell were we to know? We’d driven a hell of a long way and neither of us was properly paying attention to what was going on, and my only thought was what the hell do we look like. Two 24 year old guys stepping out of a car which we clearly can’t afford and not knowing where we are. If I was her, I’d call the cops. But there was nothing dodgy going on here, just two guys with a mission to be somewhere.
Florida, to be vague; for Robson it was the French Woods office, the administrative home to the summer camp we’d been working at this summer and base to operations of one of the largest privately owned summer camp empires on god’s earth. For me, my friends, somewhere in South Beach, Miami ready to party like it’s the last night on earth. If someone had asked me six months a go if I’d be doing this, I’d have said ‘in my dreams’.
The final, and perhaps more ‘real world’ experience was sitting on the train from Boca to Miami, the final league of my journey south and the section I’m doing on my own as I write this. I was waiting on the platform when a guy, about 19 years of age, skinny, tight curls and smart shirt, tie and suits trousers approached me asking if the train would be here soon. I responded with ‘yea, I think so. 15 minutes maybe?’ He replied with something about him not liking to look at the time and then, I guess predictably, he asked me for money. I didn’t give him any; hell, I’m more broke than anyone on this train, and walked off. Sitting down, waiting for the train and minding my own business, I found my Game Boy color (yes, the original purple one) and started playing Pokemon..as you do when you’re 24 and you’re alone in a foreign country for the first time. The mystery man then walked up to me again with a Game Boy advanced and Pokemon Yellow on the go. Maybe we had more in common than I first thought.
Oh shit, there’s a guy with a gun stood next to me. Why would the guy checking tickets need a gun?
Anyway, we sat next to each other on the train, began sharing common interests. He liked many of the same music artists as me, he told me where to go out partying in Miami and I told him that England is a beautiful gun-free suburb of Europe and about what I had recently done and was about to do. As I was telling him, I realized that my story may one day make a pretty shitty movie so decided to wrote it all down. Here it is, the first draft of the rest of my life.