The local guy she was with ordered her one shot of Jäger, and a pizza. She took the shot, and then nodded politely as if if to say “that would be a satisfactory way to get hammered”. Later she came up to pay for the two items with her debit card. I hand her the two receipts, her card, and a pen. She immediately tosses her card on the bar, and shoves the papers back into my hand.
In a tone completely devoid of flirtation she says with a suddenly heavy accent “This is my first time.”
My brain turned this phrase over and over, eventually deciding that she was speaking about tipping. I became concerned that this was her only chance to have her first time with some inconsiderable American experience. I hope she had a good time.
There have been enough developments in my life to warrant another catch up. I wanted to move from waiter to bartender while in Louisville, and I am happy to say that I am now a bar manager. Skipping steps is acceptable because it is more money. I am looking forward to put in the work at my place of business to help it thrive. I have thousands of ideas, and four of them are good. Let’s see how I do.
I also had planned to begin working on my photography. I bought my first dslr upon landing, and am pleased to have already sold three pictures, which technically makes me a professional photographer. It is exactly the arbitrary landmark I needed to get the juices flowing on this project. I am starting at the bottom, and enjoying every new thing I learn and beautiful image I capture.
My lease is until February, and I still have many things left to do in this city, but the recent boost in funds means that I will likely be leaving here sooner than I would have ever imagined. This forces me to begin laying a foundation for my 2018 plans.
I want to get paid to travel. And while I would be content if it was digging ditches in Cambodia, I have reached the point in my life where I feel as though I can reach for more. I intend to assemble my best writing and photography, and begin pitching the idea of being sent to Guyana for what I suppose one would call journalism. Entering a new foreign land with the objective of capturing a slice of their life, packaging it in a medium, and then being paid for doing so is the dream. The form that idea takes will surely change by the time it becomes reality, but I will continue marching forward until I am a professional traveler.
I will succeed, it is just a matter of time. Until then, I need to just stay on point.
When people speak of lifelong dreams, they might talk of owning a house, or leaving the atmosphere, but really it’s just anything you’ve wanted to do for most of your life. And while I still have a few loftier goals left to accomplish, I am happy to be able to cross anything off the list. And that is something I did this month.
I finally have a giant fern in my shower.
The bar I work at makes their own pizza. It comes in several sizes that are priced by the length of their diameter. 10”, 15”. 20”. etc.
When having conversations with customers for the first time about our wares, it is common and completely acceptable for them to say something along the lines of “Do you have a large? How big is that?” However, I am constantly put into the position where the customer will ask “I am thinking about the 15”. How big is that?”
The correct response to this question is “Fifteen inches.” Even if you’re not making fun of them. That is the answer.
Any job in which you interact with the public will result in answering the same questions thousands of times. Retail is excellent practice for living with an Alzheimer’s sufferer. My goal becomes to find ways to streamline these exchanges, freeing up more time to focus on other tasks. Unfortunately, I have hit a wall with this pizza conversation. It appears to me that my work has chosen terms of measurement that, I was under the impression, everyone in this country had been taught. I have taken to holding my hands awkwardly out in approximation of the stated length, but this almost never satisfies their minds. They glance at my hands, and frown in continued confusion.
And so day after day I stand around, hands out like I’m telling a fish story, seeing sufficient geometric representations in my mind’s eye. Just because my inability to sufficiently communicate this information is not a problem for the ages does not make my struggle any less real or important. Better luck tomorrow.
The second largest piece of culture shock I’ve encountered in my four months in Louisville is my peers preoccupation with high school.
Specifically their mates and neighbors behavior in that time. On a long enough timeline all conversations with the strangers and friends I’ve met here meanders towards a story about high school, often with a cast of characters I have never heard of, regardless of the storyteller’s age. I suppose our strongest opinions and friendships are frequently forged at that point in life, but I talked to a man in his fifties at length about football games that happened when he went to school down the street from where we were standing. And the upsets and victories were delivered with encyclopedic knowledge of the people who were there and their flaws.
It seems to work for them, but I can’t help feeling relief that nobody is dwelling on the actions of a sixteen year old version of myself. The decisions and antics of that primitive mind are kept whole only in my head, preserved in a brine of embarrassment. Distance from my developmental years eases my ability to learn from them. The idea of overhearing decade old gossip about myself seems exhausting. Running into an old classmate when home for xmas has never been disagreeable for me because I don’t know anyone from my graduating class that would care about or even remember anything I did back then. I have heard Louisville described as a metropolitan hamlet, and this aspect more than anything else illustrates that. And now the generations coming up have social media platforms to better organize their efforts.
The biggest culture shock, however, is that everyone here eats pizza with a fork and knife.