|Young adult adventures are the angsty-est of all.|
I sat, looking out the window as the Polish countryside slid by and wondering if I looked attractively pensive. I was 20 years old and exactly the kind of asshole who was hyper conscious of appearances.
My best friend on the train who I’d only met the day before was across the sleeping compartment from me drunkenly sitting in the lap of a Russian guy. He had informed us that he was Russian often and proudly in much the same way a certain type of Harvard graduate finds a way to bring up their educational pedigree within five minutes of your first introduction.
I wasn’t sure if I believed that the Russian guy was actually Russian because I was disinclined to trust anyone on the train. The night before I had to barricade the door to our sleeping compartment with our backpacks because the lock was broken. While I lay awake people kept pounding on our door, rattling the handle, and yelling for passports when I knew we’d crossed the border hours ago.
Regardless of the guy’s Russian-ness I didn’t think my friend’s determination to impress him with her vodka drinking ability was going to end well. I’d watched her get sick off of half a bottle of red wine the night before and wasn’t sure what I’d do if she got too drunk to handle herself and the guy turned out to need handling as well.
How do you say “this guy seems rape-y and we need a medical facility with a stomach pump” in Polish?
I’d tried to express my fears to my friend but she wasn’t interested in hearing it and I was afraid that if I pressed it I’d come off as overly cautious which was the exact opposite of what this trip was supposed to be about.
So I sat there inhaling vodka fumes and listening to carnal slurping with my eyes deliberately fixed on what I tried to convince myself were life changingly quaint Eastern European villages. I thought about the boy I’d left in England the week before.
“Marry me,” he’d said.
“I’m 20,” I’d said, “The whole point of being 20 is to be free and have adventures.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We can have adventures together,” he’d said.
“That’s not how it works,” I’d said and left the country the next day with no intention of returning until the start of the new term. When he found out he threw a glass at the wall.
When my friend and the maybe Russian were especially preoccupied I grabbed the vodka and slipped out into the train corridor.
I am pacing a train corridor with a bottle of booze on the way to Krakow. Like a bad ass. I could get off at the next station, change trains, and wind up in Paris for the weekend. This is an adventure. I am having an adventure.
I started to cry.
An unmistakably American stranger in a baseball cap opened the connecting door and looked at me. “Girls,” he spat venomously, “You’re always crying.”
I stared at him. He sighed. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. I just. I need someone to be angry at right now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It’s got nothing to do with you.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m a vodka thief. You can be angry at me if you want. I understand.”