Sunday my friend M. was like “Do you want to go to Guatemala on Wednesday?” It wasn’t very expensive, so I decided I would go.
There is this thrill one gets from taking a trip at the last minute, which is probably at least as good as the trip itself. Between the moment I bought the ticket Monday morning and heading to the airport Wednesday morning, I was charmed by myself that I was the sort of person who just up and decided to go to Guatemala at the last minute. And of course people rewarded me with a lot of: “Dude, you’re just like, going to Guatemala, you’re amazing!” and “Whoa, I want to be you when I grow up!” But the fact that I can just randomly go to Guatemala doesn’t mean that I am brave or interesting or adventurous. It just means that I happen to exist at an intersection of mildly privileged semi-aimlessness and a determination, against all odds, to avoid true employment.
My travelling companion has a very demanding job that involves a lot of epic disappointments. These disappointments befall not him but the people he works for, and they are often life-ruining, and almost always unfair. M. certainly has moments of being weighed down by his cynicism but is perhaps as often held aloft by it, giddily aware that possessing freedom, health, and solvency all at once is just a fluke. This vacation was his first in a long time. “Get ready to partyballz,” he texted me after I bought my ticket.
We were flying out of Sacramento, but we had to stop at the Placer County Library to return a 10-DVD recording of the history of the Battle of Waterloo. M. complained about the historian’s account. “He tries to pretend like he’s objective, but every time a French person gets killed he is like totally stoked,” he said. “Plus, he acts like Wellington is so perfect and doesn’t really give Napoleon any credit.” I said I knew almost nothing about Napoleon. M. explained that he had come to power during the French Revolution. “I didn’t even know that,” I said. “Is that bad?”
“You know that everyone dies,” M. said. “That’s enough.”
We talked about Merle, the dog we share. “I wish we could bring her,” I said.
“She makes too many vomiting noises,” M. said. “And then sometimes she actually vomits.”
“I know,” I said. “But I would give anything for a photo of Merle standing on top of a Mayan ruin looking bored out of her mind.” I have been to Mayan ruins before, outside Mexico City, an experience I failed to find moving. Part of the reason I had agreed to go on this trip was to see if there had been something wrong with those ruins, or with me.
On the plane I forgot to turn off the video thing on the seat in front of me and was treated to a series of before and after pictures of people who had jaw reconstruction. They all looked pretty much the same to me. I thought about a recent New York Times article that reported as news the fact that people find intelligence sexually attractive. It was the kind of thing you read and then wonder if you might actually just be dreaming that you are alive. I wondered how much more awesome a new jaw could make your life if your old one was not that bad.
The woman sitting next to me read Cooking Light and every few minutes photographed a recipe with her Android. I noticed that she had the kind of ill-defined chin one might reconstruct if so inclined. Then I wondered if my own, very slightly hyper-defined chin might benefit from reconstruction. The flight attendant handed me a packet of savory snack mix, which is something I never eat but really love, and I poured the contents of it into my mouth, already — according to my very modest goals — partying ballz.