Wednesday, August 20, 2008

VT

Sorry about that, the last post got a bit dark didn't it? After about an hour of feeling a little bit crap, the ploughmans started taking effect and I emerged from the black hole in my head. I remained slightly annoyed however, I'd purchased far too much stilton. It took days to eat.

Later that night, in order to boost my mood considerably, I put on some music ('Comfort in Sound' on repeat, mainly) and sat down on my bed to watch a slideshow of the hundreds of photographs I'd taken this year. Most of the pictures served their purpose, to remind me what a good time I have generally and also to remind how lucky I was to have been through so many great experiences. One set in particular did more than that. The pictures of my time in Vermont made me smile from ear to ear.

Until this year, Vermont had been my only experience of the USA. Whenever I mentioned that I'd been to the country, people would excitedly ask "Wow, where did you go? New York/San Francisco/Texas?" my reply would be a proud "Nope, Burlington Vermont!" followed by, "It's up near Canada in the north east", in anticipation of the next question. It's a place that'd shattered any pre-conceptions I had about the country, the residents were incredibly welcoming, the scenery was spectacular (Another travel tip, if you think my advice is worth taking) and I was spending time with an incredible girl which, all in all meant that I was very fond of the place.

This time around, one day stands out as being one of the best days I've had this year. The sun was out and we were up early to head out to a nearby reservoir so I could get some hiking in whilst my friend was at work. I was pointed in roughly the right direction and I headed off up a trail which led into the mountains, only slighty scared of being attacked by bears. The trees provided much needed shade from the sun, which had already begun to burn my pasty British skin at 9:30am. With no idea where each trail led, I let my spontaneous side take over and switched any worry, common sense and time perception to 'off' - my preferred state of mind.

Somehow I managed to navigate my way along the miles of trails throughout the morning and I descended back down to the riverside. Finding myself an hour too early to meet my friend for lunch I waded out to an isolated rock, perched myself on top and whipped out a book to read. Sitting on my own in the sun was perfect, the water flowed by and swirled around the rocks scattered throughout the river. A local fisherman sat nearby, I named him Hank. Hank whooped and looked at me with glee every time he caught a trout, which was once - he wasn't the luckiest fisherman it turns out.

After a fantastic lunch I set off for my afternoon hike around the reservoir. Apart from stopping to talk to a far-too-good-looking park ranger named Amanda, I didn't come across a single other person the whole time. A similar park in Wales would have scores of people snaking their way along the trails, especially given that the weather was so fantastic. That's the catch 22 with a pretty location, it's great for people to see it but I personally can't stand other people being there when I'm around.

Pretty fatigued after a day of walking around in the sun, I arrived back into the small town of Waterbury. I showered and changed before grabbing a nice, cold beer with my friend after she finished work. Perhaps the beer was stronger than I was used to, or I was delirious from dehydration, but at that exact moment I realised how much I enjoyed spending time with this particular girl and for the rest of the evening I remained in a butterfly-stomached trance, completely mellow and completely at ease with everything. The butterflies multiplied tenfold each time I detected that she felt the same. The day afterwards, my face hurt from smiling so much.

Despite many fantastic days out, nothing has since come close to the perfect day in VT.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Under

I lay back in the chair and feel myself deflating, the opposite to my stomach which slowly fills with the buffet I'd just created for myself. Cheese, crackers, pate, pickled onions, bread and ham litter the plate and spill over onto the table, a Ploughmans lunch is my comfort food. My eyes struggle to stay open so, surely at the height of laziness, I decide to close one while I pick out the glass of red wine from amongst the mess on the table. Remarkably I take a sip without spilling any down my front. 'Get Shorty' plays on the television, I mumble something about John Travolta being cool and my housemate just looks over and shakes her head in a manner which tells me she either didn't hear what I was saying, or she heard it perfectly and has given up trying to figure out what goes on in my head, I suspect it's the latter. I spend the rest of the film mumbling things, picking bits of stilton from the plate and trying to figure what goes on in my head myself. It's not a pleasant place to be. Anxiety, fear, loneliness and John Travolta are amongst the thoughts flying around and around. This is one of my down moments, and I don't like it because it makes my fingers smell of stilton.