First off, some changes need to happen. This blog is too long so it will be cut in half and all the D’s will go: details, douchebags, and dilly-dallying about getting to the point. Right.
Liverpool, England is not only the birthplace of the Beatles, but that of my friend Phil, my host and caretaker for the week. We met in Bolivia, a land and time of absurdity where clothes are covered in llamas and our nocturnal lives were dictated by the bar we worked in. We slept all day to drink all night and life was good for being such shitshows. Meeting in the real world was both weird and surreal. Clean clothes, regular schedules, and a presentable appearance were not things we were used to seeing each other in. Luckily, we had office meetings to attend to.
Office meetings is code for spliffs. Try using it in a sentence. For example, “I was in the office all day doing paperwork.” translates to “I’ve been stoned all day.”. Or “reading these blogs are a lot better with office meetings”. Feel free to spread the word.
Phil lives with his mum, dad, and brother in a small house in Skirmsedale, a half hour train ride to Liverpool. Yet in the first days of my being there we made it into town quite a bit, mostly for early drinking as the train last runs close to midnight. We bar hopped and pub crawled at all times of days consuming tequila and sambuca, but mostly beer. I can remember the majority of it and it was great fun.
The very first pub was touristy and historic but necessary: the Cavern. The Cavern was the underground bar the Beatles first got famous for playing in. The walls are scribbled on, the beer mugs plastic and dingy, and of course, this was during the realm of time my camera wasn’t working. Of course.
On a side note, there was a day I sucked it up and purchased a new camera online sent ahead to meet me in London. While I took my camera to a professional to fix, it was basically the same price as a new one so I opted for new. And yes, this camera was deemed broken by the professional and everyone who saw it. Why it magically started working 15 minutes after I purchased a new one, a week after it “broke”, I’ll never know. But it does function now, although it sounds like a baby lamb when turning on and off.
Before I continue with stories there are other necessary characters to introduce. While I mentioned Phil living with his family, I neglected to say this was one of the greatest families I’ve ever met and I’m near ready to file paperwork to be adopted in. (Not really Mom, please don’t worry or get jealous.) But truly it’s the family that drinks and smokes together that gets along the best, refer to my family at holiday gatherings. But the Norris clan live together everyday, and quite harmoniously I must admit, although it is well lubricated with common hobbies. Which means I fit right in.
Phil’s mum has a laugh and spirit that lights up a room. His dad was helpful and kind. And his brother and I got on from the moment we met as if I knew him as well as Phil. I was at my ultimate comfort level with this family and there are not enough kind words to express how welcomed and joyous I felt around them. That’s why most of my time here was spent indoors, relaxing, and really appreciating a home away from home. And cooking. God how I missed cooking.
One story worth mentioning was that I happened to come the week of the funeral for Phil’s Nan, his father’s mum. Phil neglected to mention this to me prior to my arrival so I wouldn’t be weirded out. Fair enough. When the day came after only a few days past my arrival, I opted to sleep in and relax while the family went to mass for the formalities. By 10:30 am the entire clan was in the bar drinking to the honor of their Irish mother/Nan. Phil was sent to collect me as by mid afternoon everyone was well lubricated and I was ready to begin.
The wake was a joyous occasion filled with food, alcohol, and memories. The party continued back the belated’s house and I felt very lucky to be apart of such a truly sacred cultural event. Luckily, she suffered very little as 6 weeks prior to her death her cancer was diagnosed and not much time was given. Goodbyes were said, family stood close by, and the grieving process already begun. She felt no pain, only the love of those around her. I could only hope to be so lucky and go out as she did, with life being fulfilled and celebrated.
Another worthy anecdote is that of the Grand Nationals, which is much like the Kentucky Derby, crazy hats and all. Oddly enough the country’s largest horse race was in their backyard and because it was insanely expensive and all consuming to attend, we enjoyed it in the comfort of the living room well equipped with “ice cream” from the ice cream truck aka marshmallow fluff on a cone dipped in flavored sugar topped with a Flake candy bar. Both weird and delicious.
While this three day event prompts endless betting on horses with truly bizarre names, I placed only one bet on the final and biggest race of all. With approximately 40 horses to choose from, I was handed the list and told to choose one and the bet would be placed for me. Considering my streak of bad luck lately, two pounds was placed on “Don’t Push It”. The near five minute long race was led strongly by a couple of horses, when out of nowhere, mine came up from behind and stole the show with mere seconds to spare. An incredible finish no matter who you were rooting for, but for me a true victory. Was the Universe finally ready to return some of the karma I had hoped was built up?
That evening we celebrated by buying pizza and wine with the 14 pounds the winnings yielded.
That Sunday Phil and I needed to escape and have a real adventure. We got on several trains, left civilization, and headed for unadulterated nature in the Great Lakes region. A series of small lakes, mountains, and proper English country cottages filled out the sprawling green hills bursting with sheep. The lambs were the best part.
We aimed for a campground in a small village but when they didn’t allow campfires it became clear campsites were not worth the 30 pounds we were prepared to spend. So we went for a walk outside of town and up and into the forest nearby. Neither of us had wild camped before, meaning without a campground, which sounds easy enough but scary when thinking about for the first time. Also, I knew the likelihood of us two fuckups setting a whole forest on fire was unnaturally high. Yet finding the perfect spot was the most difficult part but soon enough we had made a home complete with two tables, a bench, and even a dishwasher. (aka a river that you could leave dishes in all day and when you come back, they’re clean!) We even had a spot to literally hang your hat.
Two nights and three days were spent making fires, hiking everywhere we could, and finding all the small pubs and local breweries our map luckily showed us. We tried our best to buy only wine and beer and had brought our own sandwich makings and “tinner”, aka things wrapped in foil and stuck in the fire to cook. It was here I discovered home isn’t only where the heart is, but also where you cook your can of beans by the fire. And nature is a great place to call home.
Time away from the computer, television, and general noises of society always yields constructive thinking time. While Phil and I shared seemingly endless conversations (and office meetings), there was still time and space for us to each sort out our own heads. Phil was planning on starting his own salon(ps he’s a hairstylist), but is now ready to leave that project in order to live and work in New Zealand. I had my post wedding in May plans to sort through.
Honestly, I was ready to quit for awhile and move to New York to live that life for a year or so starting this summer. I was even checking out apartments online. But being outdoors in the sunshine and natural beauty the world had to offer I couldn’t help but change my thinking. I needed the exhilaration of adventure and exploring and I’m not quite ready to give that up. At least not without seeing Southeast Asia first. And truly if I watched every penny I could very easily get to Asia with some cash to spend on getting around. And so it was decided. I will fly to South Korea in June and then backpack Vietnam and Thailand with some good friends and live up the crazy life as much as I can before my inevitable return home.
With the decision made I felt settled and rejuvenated. Yet not quite ready to leave the Norris clan. Luckily the Universe sorted out plans and a bus ticket for me three days after the one I originally purchased. Turns out the Norris’ weren’t ready for me to leave either. A few more relaxing days later filled with wine, cooking, and office meetings and I’m now currently on a bus bound for London. I’ve been there before but only as a tourist. The next few weeks I will settle in with Charlotte and sort out plane tickets and official plans.
Who is Charlotte you ask? The short answer is my hetero-life partner who is full of wisdom, inspiration, and shit. The long answer is you will have to read my next blog to discover more about the crazy and beautiful Brit. Trust me, you’ll want to.