Why I Went to Portugal

Katy and Kyle suggested I take language lessons, but I wasn’t going to Portugal to talk. I would speak as I ate and slept—not deliberately; indiscriminately and disjointedly; between slugs of fizzy wine and lungfuls of potent Moroccan hashish; almost by accident. Dee, my girlfriend at the time, joked I was off to try my hand at being gay. Her ass should’ve been so lucky. I help trigger that sweet little girl’s inner slut and that’s the way she talks to me? Sorry to spout such vulgar truth like that. Life’s funny that way sometimes, I guess, is my only excuse.

Anyway, I told people I was going and that I’d be back when the money ran out or I figured out what was next, whichever came first. That wasn’t true, but it wasn’t vulgar. Another something to say in what seemed a never-ending string of somethings to say. An answer to a question. A lie, for to speak, and here’s how: For one, money can’t run out if it doesn’t exist. I did have a little cash which, together with brave fingers, a pocket full of plastic, a good relationship with my parents, no desire to purchase anything I’d have to carry and a nose for under-the-table work, made me fluid as liquid gold. Secondly, I’m not the kind of idiot who really thinks he can figure things out just by drinking wine by an open window and writing stuff down in a journal. I’m a different kind of idiot, as my tale will tell. So I gave them something a little riskier than a week at the beach. Something less troubling than indefinite wanderlust, which would require further explanation if not a confident smile and a certain degree of reassuring eye-language that I could never have mustered without a bit of the rest finding its way in there. The rest was a slap in the face nobody deserved. You are my vacation, my eyes would have cried. This is the place I visit. My parents aren’t from here, and neither am I. I have been watching you, sometimes adoring you, sometimes hating you, but I have never, not for one minute of one day, been one of you. You, YOU, are the language I don’t speak.

I’d been reading the early letters of Hunter S. Thompson—"Fuck you, I quit"—and rereading the dark insurrection bits of Paradise Lost—"Hard liberty before the easy yoke of servile Pomp." I’d been coming home from work and writing three-letter journal entries—7/05/01: "Ugh." Eyes-closed highway-driving. It didn’t take a psychic to know what was coming. My negotiations between reason and imagination were breaking down, and anywhere-but-here was the place to be when the bad guys declared their final victory. Preferably someplace where there was nothing to lose and no-one who would understand what I was raving about. And sunshine. Not to say I was feeling wild, I was lucid. This impending doom, self-imposed as it would be, was nothing new either. I couldn’t bear the idea of stirring up the bean pot again just to watch it settle in a few months. Beyond that, the exploit was cut with a suburban ration of flippancy: I just imagined it wouldn’t suck.

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