By Jack Allonby
The ability to travel is something that I think a lot of people take for granted. Perhaps I’ve been guilty of it too but on one trip a couple of years ago, I realised just how privileged I am to be able to do it.
In late 2015 I was having a rather shit time in life. From the outside looking in, I don’t think anybody could have imagined I was, but then, I was never open about it. I’d just put on a brave face and get on with my day. It was hard but I never wanted to burden anybody with my problems, especially when all of my friends seemed so happy at that time, why would I want to get in the way of that? I look back and have to think why on earth I felt that way but sometimes these things can’t be explained.
I desperately needed some form of escapism to try and get away from all the negativity in my life. Sure, I’d spend Friday and Saturday nights out with friends, drinking to help numb that feeling but it wasn’t healthy to be doing it for that reason. I’d seen that a few of my friends had been out travelling. The usual suspects, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, you name it. They’d claimed it made them better as people and that it was good for their soul and at first glance it came across a little self-indulgent but that idea is something that truly resonates with me. There’s a fantastic article which sums it up wonderfully that I’ll reference at the end of this piece.
With these recent trips in the back of my mind, and, as I’d recently got myself a credit card for rainy days, I, naturally, threw caution to the wind and booked two return flights to Los Angeles. Yes, it’s a world away from the tropical climbs of the Far-East but the USA seemed like the perfect place for me to get away from it all. I’ll admit that at the time, I didn’t really have the money but I couldn’t have cared less. I live by the idea that you only live once and I was more than happy to take the hit. As soon as I booked that flight, all my focus was on the trip. I was going to fly out and spend a fortnight on the West Coast, visiting LA and San Francisco before finishing off in Vegas.
It might sound totally and utterly ridiculous and perhaps almost infantile in the way I responded to it but after booking that flight I felt a million times better about things. I felt that I now had something to look forward to and something to work for. Something to live for.
Months and months went by and the excitement built and I even enjoyed filling out my ESTA application in a weird way. If you’ve ever filled one out, I understand if you think I’m completely insane. Now sure, I had day after day and month after month of utterly monotonous work to get through but I knew that eventually, the talking would end and the doing would begin. Soon enough, September came along and we were finally on our way. The prospect of a long flight was pretty daunting and I’d imagined that it’d feel like an absolute eternity before we’d touch down on American soil but like so many things you dread, you spend so much more time worrying about it than enduring it. The hours went by quickly enough and, here we were, on American soil.
The first few days of the trip don’t really add to the story, so I won’t bore you with the details. We did the usual touristy stuff, I drank Crystal Pepsi, I even saw Dominic Toretto’s house from The Fast and The Furious but a few days in, we visited Venice Beach. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, about 28 degrees and a constant light breeze. It was perfect. After a long walk up and down the piers, spending an hour or two looking out for some of the locations from Grand Theft Auto and Californication, we’d pulled into a small place with a bar overlooking the ocean called Venice Whaler.
After what had been a fairly hectic day so far, I got myself a beer and sat down on one of the bar stools upstairs. I spent about an hour just watching people go by, and just lived in the moment, I didn’t look at my phone, I just took everything in. I felt incredibly lucky and at that moment, for the first time in years, I felt completely at peace. I didn’t feel like I had any burdens, any problems, any worries. It was bliss.
It made me think about that quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. ‘’Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’’ For that hour or so, time seemed to stand still and I did in fact just, look around. Moments like that are what keep me going sometimes. Now I always try to find things to look forward to, things to work towards. I’ve learned to enjoy the little things as well, like just having a cold beer in the garden on a hot day, or even in a hot shower. If you’ve not had a cold beer in a hot shower, try it, seriously.
It goes without saying that I still have my bad days, as so many of us do, but they’re made so much better by remembering those good times and knowing that no doubt more will come.
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