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Holiday Nostalgia - America at 18

Saturday, 11 August 2012
Me and Sam in San Francisco
I spent most of my final year at school planning a holiday to America. No, wait... it was THREE years. The planning was done as I sat next to Sam in Chemistry classes, and I finished those at 16, when I failed dramatically... because I'd spent the classes planning my holiday.

We were also being taught by a woman who was pure bonkers. She once dropped her trousers in the middle of class, as part of some weird flirtation with one of the boys. I'd heard her say "Don't think I wouldn't do it... don't dare me" and I looked up, probably from a travel guide, to see her unzipping her gross purple satin trousers to reveal an even grosser red lace thong.

I let out some kind of strangled yelping sound, and returned to what I was doing. Which wasn't learning about chemistry.

Me and Sam set off, finally, in the summer of 2003. We were 18, bright eyed and bushy haired, and had a fondness for revealing that two inches of lower stomach that I can't bear anyone to see now.

Originally, we'd planned on travelling the length of the country by Greyhound. Neither of us had learnt to drive, and the idea of crossing America by bus seemed romantic. We'd stop along the way and see it all over a month.

Over time, it became clear we wouldn't have the money for a month of travel. So 4 weeks became 3, which turned into 2. We would fly into New York, spend 5 nights there, before flying to San Diego. We'd stay there for a few days before heading to LA, and then finishing up in San Francisco.

We were so young, looking back. This trip would be the second time I'd been on a plane, and the first time away without adults. I got myself into such a state about it that I was ill on the first day. I'd worried myself to the point of nausea.

Seriously, I was such a cool 18 year old.

That all went away when I got to New York. I'd been there once before, with my mum and a friend, and couldn't wait to see more.

New York Memories
  • It was hot. Seriously hot.
  • We went to the Upright Citizen's Brigade about three times, and discovered some in jokes that still tail us around to this day
  • We discovered a huge Whole Foods around the corner, and went there almost every day in our quest for fresh fruit
  • We saw Rent on Broadway, and were in hysterics for the vast majority of the show
  • We went to the zoo

Huh. Turns out my memory? Not that great.

When we got to San Diego, I was a little overwhelmed. Coming from New York, everything seemed... just a little bit shit. We also got seriously effing sun burnt, culminating in a lot of sickness in the toilets of Moose McGillycuddy's.

Onwards to LA, where we arrived into the Hollywood Greyhound station at night. It was... an interesting place. On the way back, we almost witnessed a stabbing. Oh, and then Snoop Dogg walked past. I think that deserves its own blog post, actually.

I liked LA. Sam wasn't so keen, and I wasn't expecting too much, but I enjoyed it. It was just the right level of wacky and interesting. I'd like to go back now I can drink, because I think that put a dampener on the trip.

Finally, we hit San Francisco. We took the overnight bus from LA (see: Stabbing and Snoop Dogg) and arrived at dawn. Interestingly, I was sat next to a woman who works in a bubble wrap factory. I spent the best part of an hour quizzing her about what sounded like the funnest job EVER.

I adored San Francisco, and I was so happy to back a couple of years ago. Me and Sam were only there for one night, which was a bit of bad planning.We had two full days there, but one of those began on a bus, and the other ended in a flight. So we never really settled in.

You learn a lot on trips like this, without the shackles of parents or teachers. You figure out a lot about yourself, and what you can do. And, if you're as lucky as me, you deepen a friendship that just gets stronger each year.

Oh, AND you meet someone who works in a bubble wrap factory.


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