American Update #4 – Sad Goodbyes

This is going to be a long one, so prepare yourselves.

Stupid Sign of the Day: ‘Gaylord Street’

Baseball!

As part of our quest to do ‘All American’ things, we headed to the home of the Colorado Rockies to watch a baseball game. We were right up on the top tier, which was pretty cool, and meant we got the best of the sun.

It was about 30 degrees (celcius), which was absolutely glorious. I checked the weather back in Glasgow and it was about 10. That made it that little bit sweeter.

We slapped on the sun block, but poor wee Caroline was pretty much getting roasted alive with her pasty skin. She’s got Irish family, so she was even paler than me. Quite an achievement. They laughed when we were walking back through the city and they were sticking to the shade, whilst I automatically moved into the sun. When you only get about a week of sunshine a year, I think that’s a fair enough approach.

Baseball itself was pretty cool. The games are so long that people apparently often just come for the second half to see who wins. We went for the first half so we could see the American anthem being played. It was really strange… almost eery. Everybody stopped in their tracks, and the words echoed around the stadium. Caroline said it still managed to give her chills at times, and it was easy to see why. As soon as it stopped, everyone went back to what they were doing.

The rules were pretty similar to rounders, and thinking back to how much fun playing that at school was, I’m not sure why we don’t do it back home more often.

Apparently because of the altitude, there are more home runs as the ball travels further in the less dense air. (No, I’m really not making that up). Me and Caroline tested this out later by throwing a water bottle up in the air. Bizarrely, it really did seem like it sailed further than expected with little effort.

It was Caroline’s last night with us, which was really gutting. Whenever I’ve met the girls, it’s been the three of us together – all or nothing – and all of a sudden we were getting split up. It reminded me of when I was younger and used to spend a week at an outdoor centre every summer and get really close to people. There was never an easy way to say goodbye; if you stayed till everyone had left, it was just as bad as leaving before anybody else.

We spoke about it a bit, and it really is the curse of traveling. You meet some of the best friends that you’ll ever have, but the prospect of not being able to see them for months or even years is horrible. Even though you know that the next time that your paths do cross it’ll be like it was only yesterday, whether or not you’ve spoken in ages, it doesn’t stop the gut wrenching feeling that comes along with bidding farewell. It’s such a bittersweet situation.

I’m sad now just thinking about it.

This is Chris. He’s such an interesting guy, and manages to smash a whole lot of preconceptions about Americans in one go. He hates sports; has read a whole host of obscure writers that even the most academic of people haven’t touched; and has a bunch of random tattoos of insects and Communist symbols that he got whilst drunk. His dry, quick, inappropriate sense of humour is caustic and wonderful. Who ever said Americans don’t get sarcasm?

I feel so comfortable here. Primarily because of the people I’ve met and spent time with, it’s like I’ve effortlessly become part of things. Even in places like Athens – my favourite city in the world to spend time in (minus Glasgow of course) – I feel a bit out of place. Here, it just seems natural. Never thought I’d say that!

People here are so incredibly polite, and not in a fake way as some have suggested. In stark contrast to London, everybody is friendly and will strike up a conversation with anyone. Coming from Glasgow, I really hate using the public transport system in the UK capital, and feel like a total outsider, but being out here for a few days has almost got me saying ‘sir’ along with them. I like it.

I think I definitely needed this trip; I feel totally relaxed, and must not have realised how much things back home had built up and been weighing on me mentally. The way I deal with ‘stress’ is to make sure I’m in control and understand every element of my life as much as I can, but then that just converts things into a different kind of burden. I expected to find it difficult to switch off, but I’ve managed it like a lightbulb.

Going away and getting a bit of perspective is more important than I’ve given it credit for in the past. It’s not just about relaxing for a week or so, it’s about realising that your life and the things that seem to be a massive deal are actually pretty small and unimportant. Sounds obvious, but you need to experience things sometimes to make them sink in, even when you might know them rationally.

I love these lassies.

See you soon Caroline.

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