Long ago I learned that you can’t make up the really good stuff. Now, I am a writer, and I tell stories. I have learned that there are techniques and things to do to make a bad story good and a good story better, but you can’t make up the really good stuff. For proof I offer my short but true story The Cake Incident. Today there was a mish-mash of events so interrelated it amazed even me. But it started last week.
Last week I was trying to figure out how to use my 109 hours of Use or Lose Leave. As the name implies you either use it or you don’t. What I discovered, honestly by accident, is that no one you talk to takes sympathy on you when you try to describe how hard it is to schedule two and a half weeks off. The most common “help” that I got was “You can donate some of those hours to (fill in name here)” which came from more than one person. I get it, it’s rough to be me. Never forget though that if we could all put our troubles in a big pile with other people we’d happily pick ours back out of the pile instead of theirs. On to today.
Today I had an in-depth conversation about Poland with a coworker. I talked of the beauty of the country, the excellent exchange rate, an incredibly detailed bit about Polish history to include why it has been wiped off the map so many times, even espoused the stark and sterile beauty of the communist architecture that remains in places, and mentioned it is one of my favorite European countries. It is cold, and I don’t want to live there, but it is beautiful. The other individual has a Polish fiancé so perhaps the man-crush conversation was driven by ulterior motives on the other end of the phone. The ability to have such a conversation with someone else is stop in your tracks amazing. I’m not talking about things I’ve read, heard, or seen in movies or on television. Rather places I have seen and been to with my own eyes. I have touched the soil, breathed the air, discussed the history, spoke some of the language all inside this far away place I never dreamed I would be able to see. The grandiose visions of the future I had in high school never included the ability to have experienced such a thing. And high school itself was on the forefront of my mind today as I heard two different songs on two very different radio stations that were both released in 1989. Again, I get it. It’s rough to be me.
At lunch today a German colleague said to me, “In a perfect world. . .” As he continued to talk, I looked around the room and outside the window then interrupted him to say, “Peter, we are in Germany. It IS a perfect world.”
Tonight, Faith asked me what my favorite continent is. I’ve been on three. I’m not bragging, I know people who have been on six and I’ve met people who have been on seven. People who know me know that I am an American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God kind of guy. A dyed in the wool, unapologetic, arrogantly proud Southerner who busts all kinds of stereotypes because I have seen as much as I have of the world. It is only a start of what I plan on seeing though. Again, I get it, it’e rough to be me.
If I could have only one wish for everyone that has ever read anything I have written it would be that you could join me in the surreality of the last parts of this story. Travel is fatal to prejudice, it is good for the soul. Seeing the United States of America from the outside can provide a viewpoint that is simply incredible. Cal Fussman, a podcaster I listen to (and encourage everyone to hear), once talked of meeting a famous author who stayed drunk. I want to say it was Hunter S. Thompson but that isn’t right. Cal asked him how he could work drunk and not forget the good stuff. To which the author replied, “The good shit sticks.”
I can’t offer everyone a free ticket, but I can offer a free place to stay, a home base if you want it. Come on over to see the good shit. It’s all good shit, and it’ll stick.
For good measure I’ll hope you also get the problem of too much leave at least once, too. Though when I say that I run the risk of sounding like I’m bragging.