Monday, May 30, 2011

How did I get into the back of an ambulance?

"Why am I in an ambulance?" "You were passed out in the street unconscious." "Oh, I'm just drunk." "We're taking you to the hospital." "Why? I'm fine really." "Because you're drunk and we couldn't get you to regain consciousness." "But, why the hospital? I'm alright now." "Look, it’s free; you can sleep it off there." "Awesome." "Yeah, we call it socialism."

Well, this is a first. I awake from a night in a free bed at a local hospital. Why did I drink so much? I couldn't really tell you. Some days my luck is good with the first few people I meet, other times I wander the streets consuming alcohol. It was the wine. I drank a box on the train, then a six pack under a bridge. I felt the urge to flee Flam as soon as I arrived. I hitchhiked to Bergen. Another tourist town but at least it might have some bars. It did. I came to see the mountainous Fjords. Driven by the delusion they might impress me. They weren't as great as California, deterrent, but not as good. Some Russian women who literally came to Norway for Husbands gave me a ride. They asked if I was drunk. I told them I was sleepy, an obvious lie, and had missed my ferry to Bergen, also a lie. I choose not to pay for the trip, opting to hitchhike. I've picked up many hitchhikers. There's an expectation that they're likely intoxicated. They wake me near Bergen and tell me to get out. I'm out of it alright. I'm not sure what they were telling me, step out of the car, and realize I have no idea where I am. I stick out my thumb. I get picked up immediately by a parcel driver who takes me to the train station around the corner. My cool buzz drifts me into the station and I make friends with a group discussing the current football match being played between Barcelona and Manchester United. It's essentially the “Super bowl”. One of them leads me to a pub when we reach Bergen and it’s like a theatre inside the bar, with the game projected onto a wall and the room packed with fans. Barcelona wins and we all go cheering into the streets. It’s a riot. The fans are on the stage and tables in the bar, then on the fountains in the street. Apparently in Barcelona it was a legit riot with heavy property damage. They're serious over here. I ask some young 18 year old girls where old men drink; one of them points me toward a bar that her dad goes to regularly. I'm thrilled. The bar is everything it should be. I introduce myself around. Within an hour I break a glass and take my leave. I had met a man and his son who shouldn't have been there because it was a 23 and up bar, but his Father is a regular. I tell them about myself and my traveling. He tells his son not to listen to a word I say, that I'm a drunk and filled with tall tales. He's right, and I love it. However my tales are too real to be faked. I regale them about my career, my education, my professional salary. He scoffs at me. His son apologizes and says it is a very unbelievable story. They should have smelled me four days earlier. The next pub I find a heavy set woman with her friends. I accompany them to a late night karaoke bar. I dance with her, feeling deep into the gills on her back as I twirl her around the dance floor. I find myself again in the street, standing on a corner smoking a cigarette, surrounded by prostitutes. They blow me kisses. I ignore them. Some people are useless to engage with because they only want one thing, your money. I search for more cigarettes and end up talking with a woman near 50 who is pulling off a full bottle of wine. I drink most of it. This second bottle is what did me in. It was nearly 4 in the morning. I vaguely remember trying to get her to take me home. I needed to sleep somewhere. And upon denial, I finished her bottle and journeyed away, toward the end of the night.

I left the hospital in the morning, first being yelled at to get out, then once more for getting lost in the hospital. I'm barely conscious. I am in a sense of disbelief at finding myself alive. How did this happen? Ugh. I leave the front doors, into the dull fog. Directed to the train station, my attempt to get on the first train fails. It’s Sunday, and its full. My 5 hour wait is spent first in the train station on a bench. Within an hour, security pushes me on. The language of "Get the fuck out" is universal. I find a cemetery and consider sleeping with the dead, too serendipitous. I wander the cemetery and see a phone booth for a call box on the highway. I curl into a tight ball in the greenhouse warmth of this shelter for those...for me, but what am I? Did I really get picked up in the street? At least it was an ambulance and not a squad car. I've had that experience in America. I wake from a ray of sunshine on my face, look at the time, and run to barley catch my train. I try to sleep in my first class leather seat (sold of out second class again). My detox-shakes cause me to convulse and jerk in my sleep. I stare out the window, watching my hand tremble. I hold down the bile. I think back to the old woman and the 4 am bottle of wine. Did it really happen?

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