Confessions of a drinker student abroad

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tea and Balloons

don't have a tremendous amount of time for a full and proper post, but I feel I just have to write. Maybe it's the snow on the ground, maybe it's the peppermint tea I'm using to hide the fact that I'm getting sick, or maybe it's the way that Wales has opened up to me. I no longer feel so much like an outsider. I live here.

You know how they say that when things are getting bad you have to step back in order to get perspective. In some ways I think this is my step, my 3,000 mile step back. Things in Terre Haute were so foggy. There was an emotion tied to every lamppost like a red balloon abandoned by a child who grew up. And sure, Cardiff will eventually have memories for me. Like the tree we used when we were walking between clubs, or that doorway...okay, so most of my memories of this place consist of a sandwich shop, and a football pitch for now. Sadly I haven't had the time to travel much, spring will change that.

Have to run now, Eng Management and then four hours of fun time with structures and advanced concrete. w00t! Will try to write more later.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Patterns and The River Bank

Sorry I haven't written in a long time, but nothing of import has really happened. Classes and social life has fallen into a pattern, I mean, I vary what sandwich I get on friday when I got to the deli with the Irish guys, but this past week has been frightfully quiet, except for one occurrence that doesn't need to be detailed.

Granted there was the social, during which I may have dented a wall with my skull, and the Defensive Backs may have had chugging contests with Cosmopolitan's, and during a game of Never Have I when the question was have you ever made out with a cheerleader one of the cheerleaders raised her hand. We might have done blocking drills in the street, tackling drills on the sidewalk, and who knows, maybe someone slid down a railing that ran for four flights of stairs after drinking a fair bit (that was totally me) but you know, just a nice quiet night. We trained, it was brutal, people got hit, generic football story. I'm probably going to stop telling those unless I pull a 60 yard reception, in which case be prepared to read about it in great and gory detail.

The food here is blah, the weather is rubbish, but when push comes to shove there's still people that care about you...maybe it's cause you're the prop of the O-line, or maybe you're just a third string tight end, but no fraternity has ever had a stronger bond. Now it's time for one of those stories. The ones with a kernel at the center that may or may not be true, and most of the rest is of of questionable veracity.

The River Bank

It was around half four when Adam tapped on the window of house 3. He glanced at the shade inside the glass pane, wondered what was behind it, what it hid that he had never seen, and never would. The navy curtain trembled and a fingertip appeared, followed by a dark braid, finally a shining green eye edged around and winked at him. With a flutter the curtain was released and left to sway in the chilling Welsh wind.

Moments later the door to the house opened and a short bundled figure came tentatively out. A lock of black hair blew across her eyes, leaving only a small patch of her ivory forehead peeking out. Adam sucked in a breath as the wind hit him, jarring a memory of the ruby lips that were hidden by that scarf, the delicate cheek that ran from the lips to the eyes and was always warm to the touch, no matter how the weather turned. The wind abated, and as the black velvet fell from her face, first one, then the other emerald eye shone out at him with a blur of emotion. She stepped to him and slipped an arm through his as they turned towards the river. Adam could feel her huddled against his leeward side, trying to hide from the wind, and perhaps something more.

As they strolled underneath the shedding elms the leaves crunched under their feet. No word was spoken, none needed to be. The shared memory of the previous night was playing in both minds simultaneously. A whispered sentiment was snatched by the swirling breeze and thrown forward along with a pile of leaves. Adam's head inclined slightly and he glanced down at her. Her eyes were shining up at him, her scarf had slipped slightly in front and he could see her parted lips trembling. A tremor ran through his arms as instinct called for him to take her in his arms and make everything better, but his mind sent an aftershock of reality that kept his hands firmly planted in his pockets. This time the murmured apology struck softly upon his ears. His mouth twisted at one side as he searched for a response. Instead her finger alighted across his mouth, silencing him. "Adam, it was my fault. You were just doing the right thing and giving me someone to talk to when I needed it most. It was wrong of me to kiss you."

He tried to speak but she continued, "I know about how you feel. You didn't do anything wrong. I kissed you, and you left in order to protect both of us. I just hope you don't hate me."

Adam gazed into her eyes, he could see that she was desperately hoping that he would say something to fulfill the dream, to turn disaster into victory. He briefly considered it, but then his resolve was steeled by another burst of Welsh fury, "Rowan, I know nothing happened, but I feel as though I wronged you, first by giving you the impression something could be there, and then by leaving you so abruptly. The truth is I simply cannot be what you need, there's someone waiting for me."

There was a pause as his words sank in, then her eyes dropped to his chest and her head nodded slightly. "I know."

The sun was setting early this time of year, the fading rays glinted off of the river and up to light the two under the trees. Adam drew her in and they embraced, then began the long walk back up to the houses, both knew that neither was what the other truly wanted. They assumed that they weren't what they needed either, but the winter was to prove them false. There were many more walks along the river, never hand in hand, and only close when the Welsh winds blew cold. When the springtime flowers bloomed they looked for the pair to come strolling along the Taff. They often saw Rowan, and sometimes she was alone, sometimes she was with a different man, but Adam never came back to the trail after that winter. Sometimes the sun caught Rowan gazing towards it as it sank, wondering where he had gone, and wishing she could have met the girl that had so captivated him.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Annnnnd I don't work there anymore!

So, Guy Fawkes night was awesome, the only problem was not being able to pronounce the street we were partying on. I certainly met some cool people though, drank some beer. We also got some sweet fireworks...the bottle rockets here are quite spectacular, even better we made bazooka's out of paper cups in order to have directional fire. Sadly I had to leave since I had early training, hopefully this weekend we'll have a reprisal.

Sunday wasn't great, but we won't talk about that. The bus ride back was entertaining though. Sadly there was no 'Story Time with Steffan', but there was a rousing round of Chicago. Not the musical, more the chant in rounds that involves wordplay. The chorus goes "I used to work in Chicago at the old department store. I used to work in Chicago Iiiiiiii don't work there anymore." What follows are innocuous statemets, that can be turned into obscene reasons for the lack of employment.

After we got back everyone split up to take kit home and then meet up later at Walkabout. We got down there a bit early, and couldn't get into the pub, so we went up to another one on the same street. Cardiff played Swansea in football on sunday though, which meant there were people picking fights everywhere. We had just ordered when 10 cops came in, half went upstairs, the others cordoned off the side doors. We sat down to drink our beers, when one of the bobby's came over and told us we had to drink up, they were putting a squeeze play on soon to clear all the drunks out. So we pounded our pints as we walked through the bar in front of the police to the other door.

We went back down to Walkabout, got some hot dogs and chips and watched football for a while. Coors were only 1.50 each so I got some Muhrican back in me. After things died down we went up the street to Lakota, just myself, Benny, Charlie and Gareth. Drinks there, then on to Live Lounge where a Guns 'n' Roses cover band was playing. As cover bands go they weren't bad actually. By 11:30 though we were tired, so we agreed to leave after knockin' on Heaven's Door, but right after that was Sweet Child o' Mine, so naturlich we stayed for that.

One cab ride later the long day ended. It was rough taking a loss, but we know now what to work on, and we'll hit harder next week. Ooo-bloody-rah! "A woman came into the store one day asking for a tennis racket." "A tennis racket from the store?" "A tennis racket from the store she backhand she got! Annnnnnnnd I don't work there anymore!"


Friday, November 5, 2010

Guy Fawkes night

So, it's been almost a week since I last wrote, but this week has been pretty crazy. Since our first game is Sunday football has stepped up a notch, and it's intense. Then there's classes, good grief, all we've been doing is direct stiffness method (woo structures) and such like. Absolutely murderous matrix algebra, although today our Structures prof explained Gaussian Substitution in a way so that I finally understand it, but it's still a mathematical problem to me, it's tough to relate to real world. In geology we've been doing stereo nets for analysing rock slope stability, it's pretty cool, although a lot of the people are having trouble drawing the points and circles.

That's how classes have been going. Not much to say about football, we're all stoked, Sunday we're gonna go smash up Bristol and I cannot wait.

It's been a fun week on the whole. On tuesday Keiran, Decklan, David and I went to WOW (the great sandwich shop) for lunch. It's a lot of fun hanging out with the Irish guys, although I find I can't relate their stories to other people without imitating the accent too. Love the sandwiches at this place though, Karl and I went this morning for a sausage roll for breakfast. Two massive fresh pieces of break loaded with everything good for 2.50 with a student card, can't really beat it.

Tonight we're all gonna go out and have a bit of fun, but nothing major since we have some light training tomorrow morning and then a match on sunday, but hey, it's Guy Fawkes night, and everybody knows the best way to show you love something is to blow up a piece of it. So, fireworks it is then, hopefully I won't get set on fire. On to deeper thoughts.

Today I went out to the store after the sun had set. The rain is still coming down in that steady mist that we've been under for 4 days now. The streetlights halos reached down over our heads. There were about 20 of us walking up the road, all spread out in groups. 3 on their way back from Lidl, 2 girls who came up from Queen street shopping, a group of classmates, all of us spread out over the 300 yard stretch of road. And yet it felt crowded. The ghosts of years of students lives hung in the mist. It wasn't terrifying, or creepy, it was just a sense of years and years of hopes and dreams that had lived and died in these countless windows. None of us think about this much, we all have a bed, and a shower, and a desk, but who was here last year. Who had to lay on this mattress last year with the spring that buries into your shoulder when you sleep? Whose posters were up on this wall last year? Was there love, hate, depression or happiness? Or like all of us, was it a mix of the four? Was it just another life, unremarkable except for the fact that it was here? This complex is a puddle, we come and go, and we turn it into our image, but when we go away it will calm and go back to the way it was before we came. It doesn't care for the story how everything got flipped turned upside down and I'd like to take a minute just sit right there I'll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air.

No, it's not that the deepness or thoughtfulness were fake, but this is life, it's sad, it's funny, and boy if it doesn't surprise you. ;)

Now this looks like a job for me
So everybody, just follow me
Cause we need a little score, a TD
And I'm to bust the head of this safety.