To the people looking at me right now, I might look slightly psychotic. I am anxiously tapping my foot, biting my nails, looking around everywhere, sweating in discomfort. I look like someone who just fled a murder scene, but I am just impatiently waiting in line at the airport. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do lines. Well, let me clarify, I meant I don’t wait in lines, I’m not about to fail yet another drug test. I do all my grocery shopping at 2 am in order to avoid standing in line. There is a certain sense of helplessness that I get from waiting. I feel like I am stripped of my autonomy, my destiny, my sense of time. I feel as if all of my being was in the hands of a 17-year-old cashier named Craig who gets to decided how much of my time, how much of my life, to waste. I know I am a piece of work, my therapist asked if we could see other people. I’ve never been to a concert, I’ve never gotten into one of the cool rides at amusement parks, I’ve never seen a movie on premiere day. All to avoid the waiting-in-line process. So just by standing here, waiting with all these loud, comfortably-dressed people, I am stepping way out of my comfort zone. As I’m nearing the counter, I can’t help but to roll my eyes at the lamest sentence I thought I would never say:
“I’d like to buy a plane ticket to your furthest destination today.”
Let me be clear, I am not a woman in her twenties trying to get over a breakup. I am not an Instafamous dude who documents all his adventurous travels sponsored by a sugar daddy. I am just a very indecisive 38-year old man who desperately needs a change. The airport employee looked at me with a slight sense of embarrassment and disappointment. In her mind she thought I was just another Caucasian going on a self-indulgent Eat, Pray, Love midlife crisis journey. She starts giving me places in Asia, Australia, and the Middle East before I realize my request was too vague. “How about a place where they speak English or Spanish?” I asked. I was very confident of my Spanish. My housekeeper was Mexican, I almost completed the Spanish Rosetta Stone, I’ve vacationed in Cabo, and I was once forced to binge Dora The Explorer since I couldn’t find my remote. I ruled out Australia because of that granting accent, Britain because of its gloomy nature, and I ended up just going for Spain. “It will be just like Vicky Cristina Barcelona!” I said to myself. I proceeded to board the plane trying to ignore the voices in my head telling me that this was all insane. I rented Vicky Cristina Barcelona and imagined my life as a bachelor banging Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson in a creepy, Woody Allen world.
I lived a pretty uneventful life being a financial manager in Chicago. I have been single for about eight years since my divorce finalized. I have (or had) friendly coworkers and cordial neighbors but I don’t really have friends. I am always in my head thinking of how things could go wrong. Like, I can’t enjoy a movie because I create twenty alternate endings before the movie reaches the climax. I am aware of my quirks and issues, but lately, my anxiety has been reaching new highs, I can feel my depression creeping back, and my brain has been working overtime. All of this has made me crave change, but what pushed me over the edge was The Outburst.
The Outburst was not as big of a deal as the people in the office would have you think. In fact, if you YouTube “Crazy Man Breaks Down Over Coffee” you can see for yourself. Yes, the fact that someone had the last Starbucks Blonde K-cup might have made me scream. Yes, I broke the coffee maker, smashed the toaster to the wall, and threw the microwave oven to the floor. I might or might not have had some choice words for every one of my coworkers. And it looks like security is escorting me out of the building, but actually, I walked myself out. I wasn’t fired, I quit, OK? We’ve all had bad days, I’m I right?
Not having a social or personal life did wonders for my finances. I had plenty of money saved and a very high credit score. This allowed me to have a nice Spanish life for as long as I needed. I deleted my social media accounts and changed my phone number, it’s not like anyone will notice anyway. After my long flight was made even longer by a crying baby, I arrived to Barcelona. It wasn’t anything like the glamour of the movie. It wasn’t orange-tinted and full of beautiful long-haired vixens. It was better. The buildings were organic, whimsical, Seussical even. The accents were beautiful, the nightlife vibrant. I felt excited, this was the first time I’ve felt excited since… umm… well, I can’t remember the last time I felt excited.
I checked into my hotel, I was surprised to find out that the whole staff spoke English. They heard me butchering the language and assure me that English was found throughout the city. It was past 11pm, so way past my bedtime. Surprisingly, I decided to go out and find something to eat. I found a modern restaurant/bar that was packed with people, but I went in there anyway. As I was eating my octopus salad, spinach empanadas, and sipping on sangria, I realized that I waited for about twenty minutes to be seated. I laughed like a maniac eliciting laughter and cheers from the table next to me.
I will never forget that night that allowed me to see that waiting for something didn’t “deprive me of life,” but it allowed me to get ready for the change. Thinking back, maybe waiting for groceries would have changed the course of my night, or waiting at a concert would have changed my mood and attitude; the waiting part is an element of change. I’ve been living in Barcelona for over six years now. The Outburst video has reached over 1 million views. And let me assure you that my problems didn’t disappear. I still get anxiety from time-to-time, I overestimated the amount of Spanish I knew, and the loneliness was more present than ever for the first couple of years. But today, after many Tinder dates, multiple Spanish and salsa classes, many concerts and movie premieres later, I am forever thankful that someone drank the last Blonde K-cup, that someone forced me to wait, that someone forced me to change.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw