On May 24, 2016, I am sitting in a dull-blue, spring-loaded airport chair with a brown paperback journal open on my lap and biting my left thumbnail when I realize that 2016 started off fucking… terrible.
I finished 2015 already on the way downhill - I had been out of school for several months and not doing anything with my acting degree, I wasn't even sure if I WANTED to do anything with my acting degree, I quit my Job at a shitty gay bar, I quit my second job at an Urban Outfitters, I was unhappy in my 6-month relationship, I was unhappy with my body because my boyfriend had the body of a tight hot summer-camp lifeguard and the face of Sam Smith, AND… I was still broke as fuck, but that one stays constant.
Around February, I started making moves to change my life around. I got a front desk job at a gym (basically so I could have a free membership), and I also got a serving job at a restaurant in downtown Chicago where I made good money but if I heard the words Strawberry lemonade or Chicken Alfredo again I would stab every guest and their mother on Mother’s day with a butter knife. So two new jobs: check, awesome, great; but I still wasn't feeling better. What I needed was a FUCKING VACATION. But not just any vacation; I needed an escape. Some time away to get my shit together. I needed to go somewhere out of my comfort zone, somewhere that will literally put me in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation so that I would be forced to figure it out on my own. I needed to go to Europe. The more I questioned the idea the more it made sense. I started realizing how genuinely privileged I have been growing up. I mean, my family is just as fucked up as the rest; but I was upper-middle class, my parents were divorced but supportive, I got a good education, went to a great college my father paid most of, he was even STILL paying my rent at 23 years old… I mean I am very independent person and have always been nor do I ever ask my father for money; but, I admit that I take things for granted. It was time to bootcamp my way into being an adult.
Over the next several months, I stuck to a strict plan:
Break up with boyfriend. — I wanted to be single in Europe… because duh. Also, I didn't want any ties to the United States because it would help me keep a progressively open mind. I also realized that the reason I started becoming so unhappy in my relationship was because I was so unhappy with myself (Thank you RuPaul). Also note that this process was not fun. I basically ripped the bandaid off with him and we don't talk anymore… we’re like those cordial ex’s that are “friends” but don't speak - understandably on his behalf because I sucked.
After every serving shift, put all cash tips in underwear drawer. — servers/bartenders take note: this is an excellent way of saving money fast. I saved about $7,000 in 3 1/2 months of working there… just saying.
Plan trip. —… lol easier said than done. This was the hardest part because like, where the fuck do you start?! I knew the bones of what I could do: my lease in Chicago was up June 1 and I already had plans to move in with another friend August 1, so there is 2 months of no rent. A couple friends of mine agreed to take care of Wendy, my cat/child/spirit animal/most important thing in my life, and my roommate at the time let me keep all my stuff at the apartment until I returned from my trip. I found a flight to Glasgow, Scotland for about $250 one way which is hella cheap, and I found out that 2 good friends of mine had planned a trip during mine so I just signed on with them. It made the most sense because they had literal spreadsheets of flight costs, hostel costs, the time it would take to go from tourist site to tourist site… girl, all I had was a one-way ticket so they practically did all the work for me. I just planned the couple weeks alone before they got to Europe and after they left and the “Get-my-shit-together Bootcamp in Europe” was a go.
Over the next couple months, I worked and saved and drank my stress in red wine. Before I could mentally prepare for the trip I was about to take, it was June 1st and I was sitting in that stiff, spring-loaded chair at Gate H - flight to Glasgow, Scotland boarding in 30 minutes. I was finishing a watered-down diet coke from my #4 McDouble meal with fries from McDonalds and had my journal out writing an entry when they called to board. The last thing I wrote in my journal was, “I feel numb.”
We land in Glasgow at around 6am. A couple of backpackers I met on the flight and I ride a bus into the city together after getting through customs. We get breakfast at this cute hole-in-the wall coffee shop decorated with vintage cars and part ways, each going to their relative hostel. I trudged up and down the city with a 40lb backpack - apparently Glasgow is hilly as fuck - and make it to my hostel, show them my passport, pay for the room (or bed really) and take a nap. We will pause here so I can explain something…
So part of my trip was having a “YES, AND” mentality. Meaning I wanted the full experience: sex, drugs, staying up all night, meeting all types of people, art, music, sights, nature, etc. Everything offered to me, I vowed to say, “Yes, let’s go, let’s do it.” Because even if it turned out to not be that fun, I was in fucking Europe! The sheer fact that I was on this trip was enough for me to enjoy everything. So, going back to the sex part, actually, so another thing I did for my trip was download tinder and pay for a month of Tinder Plus a few weeks before my trip. So one of the features of Tinder Plus is that you can put your location anywhere in the world and swipe people for that location. So, a week before I was in each city, I put my location as that city so I could meet guys and set up dates and rapid fire meet people to optimize my time. Also, I wanted to fuck someone in each city just to cross that off my bucket list. So before I was in Glasgow, I had already made plans with a few boys - one of them in particular with a boy named Roddy.
I wake up from my nap around 2pm (14:00 to be more geographically appropriate hahaha), I freshen up, and walk over to the steps of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgows famous art museum and the location Roddy, my Scottish lover, and I had planned to meet up. He arrives, and I immediately start swooning. He was wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and converse. His hair was disheveled, swooped to the left - kind of like Justin Bieber but in the case it actually worked -… and he was a ginger - I fucking love a good ginger. He was also tall and skinny which, according to my dating history, is my type. We walk through the art museum and make small talk. He admires the reasons I’m taking this trip while I secretly admire the freckles on his face. He takes me to his favorite tea shop which you literally have to enter through a back alleyway. His roommate, Stephen, joins us shortly after Roddy and I order tea - black chai for me, oolong for him. His roommate, Stephen, is equally as cute as Roddy is. Stephen was wearing a loose white t-shirt that hung on his body with a low-swoop neck that daintily sat just below his collar bones. He wore tight blue jeans and sneakers - definitely my type. Oh and he was blonde… which is also my type according to history (if you haven't noticed, I clearly don't know my type). Stephen and I exchange hellos. I tell him I’m from Chicago and traveling Europe for the summer. Roddy mentions that we met on Tinder and have some dates planned around Glasgow to which Stephen kind of starts to look puzzled. Then it hits him.
“Oh my gosh…that’s where I know you from!” Stephen says, “We were also talking on Tinder!”
My hands immediately become sweaty and I have to poop. With my hand covering my mouth I say in a half laugh, “OH MY GOD…. I KNEW YOU LOOKED FAMILIAR.”
“You guys met on Tinder, too?!” Roddy says as he starts laughing, “Fuck that WOULD happen to me and Stephen!”
My embarrassment starts to turn to relief as I notice they were not as upset about it as I thought they would have been.
“Wait so like… this is chill? Were all good?” I say trying to clear the air.
“Oh my god, YES, that is so funny! What are the odds?” Stephen says, ensuring me that the situation was funnier than it was traumatic.
So I’m pretty sure in America, that situation wouldn't have gone that smoothly… but okay. So we move on and end up going back to their apartment and meeting Stephen’s friend/boyfriend/hook-up/who the fuck knows we’re all gay. We all start drinking gin cocktails, and by gin cocktails I mean they had the gin and we ransacked their kitchen looking for the cocktail. We manage to find some sprite, soda water, and grenadine… Delicious. So after a couple of those cocktails, we’re all pretty fucking wasted. Then, Roddy has a brilliant idea -
“Let’s take drugs.” He says.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking and it has turned into that kind of Europe story. To make it even better, this would be my first time ever taking drugs.
A couple hours later, and after a very awkward interaction with Roddy’s drug dealer, we arrive in a taxi at this gorgeous historic European loft with a bag of Mandy - which I still to this day don’t know if that’s a different drug than Molly - but whatever the fuck it was, I was going to take it. We roll into this hipster-ass looking party and pop open some champagne bottles. I met so many people and can’t even remember a single one. I remember everyone looking really cool and really hipster dressed in tank-tops and flow-y cardigans with high waisted jeans and bowler hats. I’m pretty sure some of them even had circle-rimmed glasses. After getting significantly drunk off of the champagne, Roddy and I each swallow a paper-wrapped ball of white power. Here… we go. Fast forward an hour and I am deeply massaging some random girls arm like we were in a Marvin Gaye music video. Fast forward another couple hours and I come out of a blackout in Roddy’s bedroom, riding Roddy’s dick and jacking off Stephen’s while taking an inhale puff of a cigarette (which I have never done before so it fully sobers me up). I spit out the cigarette in disgust and it lands on Roddy’s chest to which Stephen screams and knocks it off Roddy and onto the floor, stamping it out. I cum and fall over asleep.
The next morning, I wake up in a jolt, fully conscious and aware this time, butt ass naked in bed next to Roddy who is somehow in his underwear…. and also next to Stephen somehow in his underwear… and I just stop… and take a moment. My head feels like it had been smacked onto the concrete repeatedly. Like I finally understand what it means when people “It feels like I got hit by a fucking semi.” Roddy and Stephen wake up and we chat for a bit. They tell me I must have blacked-out for a while because after the party we went to a club and danced for an hour or so, and I got kicked out because I was too fucked up and was slurring and falling on everyone - so that’s awesome. I look at Roddy and Stephen and realize how happy I am in this moment. Day 1 of my trip and I have already taken drugs and had a threesome. So far Europe is making one of hell of a first impression.
About the author...
Michael LaVallee is a Chicago native singer/songwriter and actor. A lover of music and marketing, he is teaching himself to produce his own music to share in the near future. He lives his life embracing every moment and learning from all his surroundings in hopes to inspire living life to the fullest.