American Beauty

When I made a blog, I wanted it to be a sort of travel diary. A guide to wherever I went, in London and beyond. But I realised pretty quickly on that if I was writing about travel, I wasn’t really writing about myself and what I thought. For whatever reason it’s hard to show a picture of Westminster Abbey and then go on to say that it and the rest of the old English landmarks are actually somewhat meaningless to me. It seemed like if I was going to be writing a travel guide, I had to look at everything justly, and not let my personal philosophical whims taint the glory of the place that I’m in.

I can’t juxtapose pictures and impersonal anecdotes about ‘travel’ and ‘London’ with my life. I can’t say that I’d actually spent the first two weeks here binge watching Friends, and that my favorite day of the week has officially become Monday because I have Zumba and then go to Amanda and Peter’s to watch Impractical Jokers. I can’t admit that I actually like clubbing more than I like the rustic charm of the English pub, or that I still haven’t eaten fish and chips. I can’t admit anything about my life as it really is, and that just isn’t fun.

It’s also not fun to write a blog about travel because I’m not traveling. I don’t walk around slowly and languidly, staring intently at the tops of the buildings, trying to ‘soak in London’ while passing through Sloane Square on my way to school. And I don’t worry when I cross the road because at this point I’m pretty used to looking right. More likely, I’m convincing myself that today, I’m not buying a coffee. Or, I’m wondering how to solve part three of my C++ assignment. Why isn’t it compiling? Or, I’m thinking about the intricacies of meeting people in a new city. Or what it’s like to sort of finally be an adult, or why living in London feels so different from living in Madrid. So when I sit down to write I don’t have travel on my mind. I’m not indulging. I’m eating carrots out of a bag and wondering whether I can swing eating a second Belvita cracker, or if I should just not and be economical instead.

So even though I started making this ‘travel blog’ for me and to keep track of how I felt, I wasn’t writing about how I felt at all and instead pretending I was a robot walking through London.

Having said that, I think my real life in London is maybe the best life I’ve had yet. When I decided to go to school here I sort of assumed it wouldn’t be great. In Madrid, I always felt like the most alienated person in Spain. I was constantly fighting to feel normal. Even though I had some of my best friends with me, it was like drinking cold soup always trying to convince myself that I should be having a great time because I was in a new place, and that I would be making friends with these new types of people soon. In London, I feel like I’m a kid again. I am constantly doing things that I like with people that I like. I feel like the work I’m doing at school is meaningful, and that I have finally found something that I like enough that there’s a sliver of a chance that I could change the world with it. I just looked up some of my favorite bands and found that they’re all playing within the next six months. I’m constantly going to art museums and watching new movies and reading new books that make me feel enlightened. It’s like I’m winning the lottery over and over again, and I don’t know if it’s ever going to stop, or if I’m just going to feel like I’m floating on a cloud for the rest of my life.

Because of that, I’ve started to apply to jobs in London. I think that it would be silly to leave this place after finding it, and finding that I like pretty much everything about it. I also think that it would be rash of me to leave London before I can afford to outfit myself with a whole new wardrobe, or before I’ve tried and failed to make it as an Amy Winehouse impersonator.

Even though I know I’m not, sometimes I feel a lot like Lester Burnham from American Beauty (let me explain). I think I feel so connected to Burnham as a character because he is the essence of the particularly rare personality trait that I might love above all others: carelessness. It’s not the kind of carelessness that doesn’t wash the dishes and lives at his parents house watching anime cartoons, though. It’s the kind of carelessness that comes with realizing that life is meaningless. We can do whatever we want, and so can everyone else, and it’s not going to change the state of the Earth very much at all. Not caring so much about whether things go your way, and finding incredible joy in the times that they actually do, is what Burnham was all about. And given how ridiculously great I feel like my life is right now, I can only assume that I’m blocking out the things that aren’t quite as good.

So on that note, I think I’ll keep working on this absurdly long IBM application. But maybe I’ll have a glass of tea and take a nap instead, because tomorrow is Monday and I’ve got to reserve some energy so that I can laugh while watching Impractical Jokers. Or, maybe I’ll sit and read the last line of American Beauty, because it’s been my obsession, and it’s Sunday, and my name is Alex, and I can’t help but do whatever I feel like doing.

Until next time:

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me. But it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and not try to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.



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