The Confession of an Entitled Addict

It was snowing on April 2nd as I walked to the base of the sky-bridge that ferries Calvin College students across the Beltline to the DeVos Communications Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The emotions caused by seeing such precipitation at this time of year do not have room to fit in this post so I will move onto the song that was blaring from my headphones as I scrunched my neck against the wind.

“Summer time in cities I ain’t ever been to yet. Pretty broads, in foreign cars, who fly around in jets.”

This is the opening line of Night Circus, the second album from Bryce Vine, to whom I was introduced a few weeks ago during a Spring Break trip to Austin, Texas. Remembering the 90 degree beating sun of Austin, and the warm 70 degree breeze of Northern Israel, a three week trip I took during January, my bitterness towards the current soul-sucking weather hardened into diamond. I burst through the door at the top of the three story staircase and was greeted by a blast of warm air across my face, and the above song’s chorus in my ears.

Galilee, Israel: January 2016

I put on a pair of black Nike sweatpants that contrasted brilliantly with my neon yellow (also Nike) shoes, donned a black Under Armour jacket, (yeah I know the uniformity fell apart) put in my earbuds and walked under the shining stars to the water’s edge. I paced back and forth about a meter from the zone where the water and sand met to create a mixture that looked like cold, settled, oatmeal. I grabbed a red wooden chair whose back was awkwardly proportioned with regards to its seat, and marked my territory for the night’s festivities. If a person relaxes and closes their eyes they can imagine being anywhere in the world. Normally that’s one of my top three skills behind one-handed cartwheels and whistling through my teeth, but tonight I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I wanted to stay on the shore of the Sea of Galilee until my body dissolved and became part of the sand I was currently digging my toes into.

Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes

I only had to wait a quarter of an hour for my four companions to show up. We sat in a semi-circle, barely able to see one another’s faces, passing around two bottles of wine that I had bought earlier at the hotel bar. Like normal students from a small liberal arts college in the Midwest getting our token study abroad experience that makes some people want to return home as soon as possible and never set foot outside the U.S. again, we spent most of the night coming up with a master plan to rid the world of all its ills. After one of our number turned in, the four of us that remained sat in our Adirondack chairs, dug our feet further into the sand to draw out any residual warmth, and bared our necks to the breeze that blew off the rippling water at a slow clip. Soaking in that moment, a bottle in my right hand, the cuff of my jacket in my left to keep it warm, and my eyes taking in the ocean that at this time of night took on the same inky violet color as the sky, produced an emotional orgasm, a term I am hereby defining as having the emotional security to experience every aspect of an intensely new moment, which produces a feeling of exhilaration.

Austin, Texas: March 2016

The faded yellow disc sliced through the air and came to a halt in my hands with a crisp smack. I took a moment to look up, shield my eyes with the round, 175 gram piece of plastic that was adorned with a red and blue star, and take in the sight before me; the grassy slope we were standing on was speckled with gold patches of pre-dusk sunlight and flowed down to a cement ramp that descended to a swimming area. The aquatic arena we had been lounging in was cut out of natural rock and contained holes and cracks on the bottom that we often slipped in and over, as opposed to the man-made cement that made up the opposite end of the canal. The five of us were standing in a rough approximation of a circle, lazily floating the disc back and forth without saying much. None of us wanted to break the spell of contentment that had descended on our post-swim chill session.

Barton Springs in Austin

Eventually our appetites caused us to leave in search of nourishment, which at 10 pm is defined as pizza. One of us quickly hopped on YELP and looked up a place that balanced price and quality to our liking. The result of that search was Home Slice. After we safely stored our food in the back seat of the car, we drove over the bridge that led back home, through the heart of the city, with our windows down and our mouths wide open singing at the top of our lungs.

“I don’t wanna think about anything at all. I just wanna run around, doin’ what I want, with a pretty-ass girl and a slow jam, and some Sour-Patch kids and a Coke can.” — Bryce Vine

Since it was still 75 degrees, and the place we were staying had a porch, we took our pizza outside along with a couple Shiner beers, which is as good as cheep beer gets, and one or two Redd’s, which have been a favorite of our group every since a certain Friday night in Holland during Tulip Time. We feasted with only a dim porch light aiding us in our search for sustenance and a slight decrease in sobriety, as well as the knowledge that we were among people whose desire to see us flourish was unwavering.

The key ingredient of these two memories can be summed up by the chorus I’m currently listening to in the midst of winter’s final push:

“All I want is, foreign lands, new arrival, nowhere man. Here a minute, gone again, I’m a nowhere man.”

I am a junkie. My drug of choice is exploring new places while having the time and security to savor the high it gives me. I lust after it every moment I spend chained to a desk in a room that has a hundred copies throughout campus. I want to rip myself free and escape the monotony despite knowing that enduring will provide the resources to indulge my addiction. But what if the withdrawal kills me?