Sunday, May 3, 2009

Unpaid vacation

Let me start by saying my trip to Europe was near perfection.

I shared a bottle of wine with a member of the opposite sex, my feet dangling over the Siene in Paris.
I danced with Spanish girls, with whom I couldn’t communicate, in the most impressive club I’ve experienced in Barcelona.
I experimented with mind-altering substances in Amsterdam.
And I drank pints of unfiltered cask ale with an obnoxious Brit.

But that is only in retrospect. If I consider my objectives before leaving, it was a near-failure on every account. I had several reasons for making the trip, but my reasoning was questionable by most standards.

I was kind of chasing after a girl that I’d met a few years before, and kept up with since. We’d spent time together when she was in the U.S., and video chat flirted when she wasn’t.

She’d tell me I should come to London frequently, but it was the kind of invitation intended to stimulate conversation. The same way phone sex only works if you have plans to meet at some point in the near future. Just we weren’t discussing sex. She’d tell me about the amazing Italian place that she’d just found or a new market she’d discovered, and end each sentence with, “we can go when you visit me.” The constant invitations, and my constant, “Ok, I’m really going to come,” made the distance feel much more conquerable. And while I tend to get prematurely over interested in girls, the concept of going to London to chase her felt romantic.

At the time I was employed at AIG. The deteriorating insurance giant, that owes the government over $100 billion. I sensed that my non-critical analyst job could easily be dropped, and the thought of failing to use my paid vacation hurt my heart. So I planned to use all of it on a single trip, and when I returned I could live without the fear of not having an opportunity to use my paid vacation.

Lastly, I had some extra cash that I felt like throwing around.

I’ll quickly summarize how my trip turned out:
• The girl is now a close friend.
• I got laid off before I could use all of my paid vacation.
• And it turns out that cash wasn’t really, “extra.”

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