Friday at the Bar

La Fete des Vendanges, Neuchatel, Switzerland
La Fete des Vendanges, Neuchatel, Switzerland

My last night in Montreal was one of those perfect kind of nights out where, before the hangover kicks in the next morning, you can’t help but laugh and marvel at the way we dance through this universe.

I went out with a bunch of guys and a couple girls I had met at the hostel.  The drinks were cheap, the music was the average top 40 “dance” music, and we got there way too early.  Things didn’t start getting good until at least midnight.  I did a lot of dancing, which, for me, is basically jumping around and making weird hand motions, and I also did a lot of people watching.

There is an ebb and flow to what happens at the bar.  People surge forward to order drinks, and retreat back to suck them down.  The music builds to a crescendo, coaxing dancers to the floor.  Then a shitty song comes on, the floor empties, and more alcohol is needed.

Guys strut around like roosters, chest puffed out, hair gelled in place.  They swagger, they survey, they are territorial.  Honing in on a girl, the guys lean down and purr something about how this girl is the coolest girl at the bar.  When singled out from their gaggle of girlfriends, girls bat lashes and sip drinks.

A couple girls inevitably get too drunk and rub themselves on nearly every guy in the bar, skirts riding up to expose a bit too much leg.  One girl makes out with three different guys, propositions two for sex, one bewildered guy accepts, and they have sex in a bathroom stall.  Other girls in the bathroom point at his shoes, visible underneath the stall door.  An hour later the girl runs out in the cold, in her minidress, and her friend puts her in a cab.

Meanwhile, guys and girls take more shots and try their best not to look too silly on the dance floor.  Some have concentrated looks on their face, others have eyes closed, floating away with the alcohol and the beat.  The alcohol loosens bodies and enables getting low.  Foot traffic goes in and out; people take smoke breaks and catch fresh air to fight off the nausea from the mixing of different alcohols.

There is singing and fist pumping and sweat and laughter and life.  There is an invisible thread that connects everyone at the bar, all part of the same unfolding drama.  There is a feeling under the pulsing lights that anything and everything can happen and that it all will.  From each moment stems infinite possibilities, each as likely as the next.

It’s my last night of a week of travel; there is an excitement of being in a foreign city, with a foreign language, with foreign people who are now friends.  I buy shots, my friends buy shots, we dance, we try to chat over the music.  At closing time, we are herded out like cattle.  We walk home, in the freezing Montreal late night/early morning.  We stop for poutine and pass the square filled with homeless people.  It’s really not night anymore.  We get back and sit in the hostel living room, still in jackets, not ready for the night to be over.

I wake in a few hours, say goodbye to those who are conscious, and check out.  On the walk to the train station, I laugh and smile at the perfect orchestration of everything, still giddy with the chances and choices of this life.  And, most of all, I am grateful that I’ve had this week of exploring new places and things and meeting some new people.

Exploringly yours,

Alaina

You Might be a Traveler When…

Kurpark, Bad Aussee, Austria
Kurpark, Bad Aussee, Austria

While planning my upcoming trip to Montréal (leaving tomorrow!) some thoughts occurred to me.  One being: “Why am I not going somewhere warm?!”  But, I haven’t really planned anything (except how to get there and where I’m staying), and most of my friends at work think I’m crazy “brave” for going somewhere alone, for a week.  Through these conversations, and in my own experiences, I’ve noted some characteristics of the traveler

You might be a traveler when… Your bag is a backpack, and you carry it on your back.

Rolling suitcases are for business people in airports.  Travelers ensure all of their belongings transport quickly, easily, and efficiently on their person. And they have the sore shoulders to prove it.

You might be a traveler when… You only bring one pair of shoes.

The ones on your feet!  Even if they are snow boots.  Hey, there is no room for extra shoes in that backpack.

You might be a traveler when… You sleep in a bunk bed, in a room with 4+ strangers.

Minimum.  Whenever I mention that I stay in hostels, I typically get two questions: “Have you seen the movie Hostel?” and “Where do you change clothes?”  There is no privacy, hardly any quiet, and not boring.  But also – it’s cheap.  That’s a win!

You might be a traveler when… You book your transportation to your destination, and your accommodation there, and just kinda go.

Traveling tends to be more about the journey than what you do once you get there.  Yes, I want to see and do all the things but I don’t know what those things are yet.

You might be a traveler when… You take trips and not vacations.

Traveling is kinda hard work; I hesitate to consider it “relaxing.”  Staying at home in my bed would be easier.  To a traveler, traveling is a mandatory, often times intense, experience. It’s about exploration and discovery of a new place (and yourself).  Poolside piña coladas are typically not included.

You might be a traveler when… People ask you about your upcoming trip, and you’re not sure how to respond.

“Are you excited?!” my mother and a couple friends might ask pre-trip.  I don’t know – am I?  Sure, a traveler looks forward to the next trip, but excited?  I don’t know.  A traveler needs to go, there is a deep-seated desire to explore the world around her.  Whether that elicits excitement, or is a feeling that you care to explain to any person who asks, is up to the individual traveler.

There are many ways to experience a place.  But, in my mind, “travel” does not always come with a daiquiri on the beach (but, that wouldn’t be too bad eh?).  Travel should push you, pull you, mold you.  Travel is good for the soul.  Exploration is essential.  However you do it, just go.

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” -Anatole France

Food for thought.

Exploringly yours,

Alaina