Dude, I know this is a long post but remember you can just stop reading when you get bored. So don’t decide not to read just because it’s over 2000 words long! I reckon you’ll enjoy bits of this.
It was about a month-and-a-half that we started entertaining the idea. Of course, we couldn’t, could we? The money… the documents… the time… and who would feed the cats? There was a reason we hadn’t decided to do it before. Really, money had been the main barrier. It seemed a bit silly to spend that much; we’d have to had stayed long enough to make it worth it. But this was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity… this time, we could possibly make it work.
Let me explain: We do “Airbnb.” For those who are new to it, “Airbnb” is a sort of website or network that enables people to rent out rooms in their houses for a few nights here and there, online. It’s a bit like Couchsurfing, but focused more on providing accommodation than an exchange. We’ve been renting out on Airbnb for about two-and-a-half years, and before then we mostly hosted Couchsurfers (before that we were on Hospitality Club.) As a result I’ve grown up sharing my house (not ALL the time, obviously) with guests, gaining exposure to other cultures and languages. It’s been a great way to meet people, and Airbnb is also a good way to supplement our income. But anyway, enough about that. You can google it if you want.
It so happens that Airbnb (as well as there being forums to consult fellow hosts) sometimes arranges events for hosts to meet each other. These are usually held in someone’s house or a cafe/restaurant – always with food, that’s the main attraction for me. But sometimes Airbnb also hosts conferences – abroad. Which means that you can be chosen to go. Earlier this year my dad was invited to Ireland! I was absolutely excited for him, since none of us had ever been to Ireland (despite the fact that we’ve visited countries that are much further away…?) I just couldn’t believe he was actually gonna visit it. I know you probably don’t give a damn but I do. And I get really excited about travel, man… like crazily, unrealistically so. I love the idea of going abroad. I love GOING abroad. So anyway, my dad visited Ireland.
Yeah, I know you’re thinking “fascinating, I REALLY care about the fact that your dad went to Ireland,” but I promise I’ll get to the point soon.
Now, the conference that Airbnb is currently organizing is happening in… *drum rolls* San Francisco. San-fran-freakin’-cisco! And guess who was invited? Yes, our parents – and they were told that me and my sister could tag along. WOOHOO. We spent weeks considering the pros and cons of traveling to the United States (we were actually discussing it!) My sister and I both tried to insist that our parents go without us, seeing as bringing us along would be slightly more costly, and they’re the main ones who were invited. But our parents didn’t want to go without us…
Back story time:
I have DREAMED of going to America my whole life. (“Wow, big deal,” I hear you say.) I’ve literally been lost in so many fantasies of going there that it’s stopped seeming like a real place. I’ve had literal dreams where I was IN THE UNITED STATES – in those dreams I can never believe that I’m actually there – I’m in awe of the situation, the coming-true-ness of it all… but then I wake up and it’s all false, and I’m left with an incredible heart-sinking disappointment. I’ve actually lucid-dreamed myself to The States before but I’ve never had a good enough imagination to construct surroundings that are realistic enough. There have been times when I have lost myself in day-dream fantasies of America, once again feeling the bitter disappointment when I realize that I’m not actually there; I’m still in England, land of rain and tea and my normal life. America is probably my second biggest dream (My biggest dream is the being-in-a-rock-band etc. one.) So that’s pretty huge. I have planned this trip in my head for years, visualizing taking my best and only my best clothes there; making sure to visit “UFO hotspots;” meeting up with my American friends that I haven’t seen in ages; seeing the top tourist attractions; shopping in Walmart; visiting convenience stores; visiting malls; buying stuff you can’t get in England; hearing American accents all around me; eating American food… the list goes on.
But why America?
Because I hear SO MUCH about the U.S.A every day of my life. Constant mentions everywhere, music, books, movies – practically everything. EVERYTHING. Well, a lot of things. So there’s this strange feeling of it being so close, yet so far at the same time. It’s like I’m surrounded by it, like everywhere there’s evidence that it exists… yet it doesn’t actually exist for me, because I’ve never been there. There’s this funny contradiction going on and I’m finding it hard to explain… I think what I mean is that America is all around us, yet if you’ve never been there, it might as well be fake. I even have this sort of false “conspiracy theory” I thought of that America is a myth made up by the British government in order to prevent people from venturing into that “American” part of the world, because there’s a secret British spy base or something there that they’re covering up. And the government knows that us Brits want to start up huge, successful companies, so they’re using the lure of the rich, confident, prosperous “U.S.A” as a goal to encourage us.
“But what about the Brits who have been to America?” you ask. Aha… no-one’s been to America. They just fly you to this manufactured “city,” with actors putting on “American” accents. That’s why people from the U.S. have such white teeth; they’re all actors. And all your friends who come from there are just pretending.
Yeah, so that’s my theory. But that was to kind of illustrate my point that America is this sort of mythical place like Heaven or Atlantis or those restaurants where you eat insects; you hear about them everywhere, but if you haven’t been there, how can you be sure they exist? The U.S.A: It might as well be fake.
I know you must think I’m really naive for thinking America is this “great, wonderful, benign… utopian place” where everything happens perfectly. Well, actually I don’t think it’s like that. And yeah, I acknowledge the fact that they drop bombs on places/
start get involved in a lot of wars etc. But the truth is, yeah, I am a bit naive (and I’m not embarrassed about it)… but I’m 14 so to be honest there’s a lot of time to develop cynicism later on in life XD
So anyway, one day my dad announced that he’d booked the tickets to San Francisco. For all of us. I gasped. Did he really mean…? Did he…?
It took a while to sink in. In fact, it hasn’t even sunk in yet… and we’re leaving tomorrow in the small hours. I LITERALLY CAN’T BELIEVE IT. I didn’t tell anyone about the trip for ages because the idea that I was going to go to the U.S.A hadn’t properly registered… it was just too crazy. Since I couldn’t properly absorb the fact that my dream was coming true, I sort of tried to avoid thinking about it. But I’ve been thinking about it non-stop today and it’s just amazing, it’s just crazy and incredible – I swear it must be fake. I KEEP thinking I’m going to wake up and the whole America situation will all have been a dream… it just can’t be real, can it? I’m not really going to be in the U.S. this time tomorrow, am I? God! A-freakin’-merica!! I almost think that something terrible is bound to happen to prevent our trip… so cross your fingers for me.
OMG TOMORROW TOMORROW TOMORROW, SORRY, I’M GOING TO GO A BIT WEIRD AND CRAZY HERE… BUT AMERICA… NO WAY. THIS IS SURREAL MAN, IT’S INCREDIBLE!! JEEEZ HOLY SHIT. Damn I feel like that guy who saw the double rainbow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI)
I feel like I’ve just got magic powers or unexpectedly woken up on a bed of gold coins. I wonder what America will be like… What will it be like stepping off the plane?? What the Hell? Americ fjd icfhJFIDO JDIOA ASDFJKL; ;L ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSDKZFFFFHILSCZCHILKUXC UAWI SLZ KX WOOOOHOO HELL YEAH! So soon. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. Whenever I picture being in the U.S.A, I always imagine closing my eyes and breathing in and just feeling the America-ness of it all. Man! And just doing nothing, just being present in the moment and savouring it. God!
(Shut up, I know I’m childish)
At the bus stop the other day I suddenly remembered where we were going on holiday, so I went “Whoo, America” in this really high pitched, excited voice and everyone turned to look at me.
I know I’m going to love the U.S.A… the time there’s gonna go so so quickly, and it’s going to become one of my favourite places in the world. I’m really going to miss it when I leave. I will try to absorb every moment of the trip. Since we’re going to San Francisco, to get into gear I’ve been listening to the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, and I’ve also been reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales Of The City.” So far I’ve just started reading the third book, which I’ll hopefully take on board with me to read on the plane.
I didn’t sleep at all last night, as I’m reserving snoozing for on the aeroplane (something to do with jet lag prevention.) I’m not going to sleep tonight either. BTW my biggest fear right now is having my spiky choker-necklaces confiscated… which, now that I think about it, has about a 0.09% chance of happening.
In a kinda cliched, cheesy… but completely sincere way, I feel like this trip to America is the beginning of a new
page chapter – hell, part of my life (SHUT UP.)
I said, shut up. Well you know what? I very rarely get this excited about things so you should be happy for me instead of judging me. LOL 🙂
A few hours at the airport, 16 more on the plane, and then I’ll be all the way across the pond. The U.S.A: land of KFC, nice teeth and American accents. I’ll be there for about two weeks.
If you have been to The States, comment below and let me know what your holiday highlight was! Or if you’re from America, tell me what it’s like living there.
America, here I come!
(I will edit the – numerous – grammatical errors in this post later on.)