I am very rusty at blogging, and it probably shows, so be prepared for the humour level to bottom out. Also, one of the drawbacks of resurrecting this blog is that I am not single at the moment, which leads to the problem of how to introduce my (current, and hopefully future) boyfriend. We just passed our six-month anniversary (while he was in Japan), and touchwood, at the moment things are going well, so I don’t want to blow it with screeds of jokes at his expense. On the other hand, what could be worse than reading screeds of drivel blowing smoke up the arse of someone you will never meet? (Written by someone you will never meet!) I suppose there could always be that sweet, schadenfreuden satisfaction of later reading how it all went tits up.
In the meantime, I shall write as if no-one is watching; which rather defeats the point, but ho hum. In which case, he needs a name, so I shall call him, the Bossman. Since I am now his part-time admin assistant on top of my day job (and it’s on the up-and-up – them bills need paying, and I hope to do so without resorting to cleaning up after yet more strangers in my flat), this is reasonably apt. It does highlight a certain power differential in our relationship, and a rather embarrassingly traditional-type one at that, but them’s the breaks.
Also, I need to ramble less.
So, California, how did that happen? Well, after eight months of near-constant freezing rain and drudgery in the day-job, I was dying for a holiday but could not for the life of me afford one. And lo, around mid-January, the Bossman started dropping hints about upcoming international business travel, and would I like to come with? Ooh. He mentioned Tokyo one day and San Francisco the next, Washington DC and Nice; I did not remotely care where we went so long as I knew what weather to prepare for and had time to put my leave application in.
As soon as I did so, the dates got changed, but this was not his fault and after much grovelling on his part (yeah, you bastard, giving me a free holiday, you awful man) and on mine (towards my colleagues, erm, mainly blaming him) we were set. I just had to get an ESTA form and pack a bag. And meet the Bossman in San Francisco airport (erk – the furthest I have ever travelled, and I have to do it alone!?!) because he was flying in from Japan. I am seriously unused to this lifestyle.
I was mostly bricking it about the travel because the last time I went to America (yeah, check me out), the ESTA form went so horribly wrong that it was not possible for it to have gone any wrongerer and me still to have gone. That form was free, and is apparently still valid, but since I reckoned I was probably never to return, I did not keep a note of the number. Sucker; I had to pay for a new one. On the other hand, the old one was probably cursed. Because this time, I gave myself about three hours for check-in and the whole process took under two seconds – there was none of this ‘hour-long security queue and high-intensity quiz’ in between flights, either – I sauntered off the plane, went round the corner for a beer, and sauntered onto a new plane.
After which, they shut the airport due to snow. Seriously, I had no idea how lucky I was.
Seventeen smoke-free hours later, and views of polar ice and Pacific waves, I was in California, on the other side of an ocean and a continent. Truly, I live in an age of miracles. My suitcase arrived too and everything. The air was cool and pleasant, unlike the air in Glasgow, which is glacial even when above freezing and tries to shred your lungs with ice particles regardless. This was my first indication that the weather here, contrary to what I had been told to expect, was not like the weather back home. And here was me with a bag full of thermal longjohns and only one summer frock.
I went round the airport three times on the wee sky-train thing just for the novelty of it.
Finally, just after I had ordered my first beer on American soil, the Bossman texted to say he had arrived, so I abandoned my drink post-haste (and nearly my suitcase too, whoops) and stormed off to meet him. It’s been about three million years since that one time a partner took me on holiday, and he spent the whole time really quite angry with me for one reason or another: I was sick, he was sick, he wasn’t happy with the transport links… with hindsight, I feel much of it wasn’t actually my fault. But it was quite unpleasant, so I was determined to pull out all the stops and do the ‘ever so grateful girlfriend’ routine in the hope of heading similar occurrences off at the pass. So I was greatly miffed when the Bossman got off the sky-train, took one look at me and pegged it in the other direction, suitcase rattling along behind him.
I had to chase him right through the car-rental building.
I can see why any US citizens coming to Britain would be rather taken aback. Instead of a car, they rented us some sort of gigantic high-tech yacht on wheels, and were so friendly I expected to either exchange email addresses or have to tip on the spot. Not only is there the means of controlling the temperature in the car – to precise measurements, albeit in this Fahrenheit business that I don’t understand – but you can control the temperature in different parts of the car. The steering wheel can be heated, the seats can be heated – the seats can also be chilled, to my astonishment. So it came to pass that the Bossman spent the drive to the hotel attempting to give me piles.
And lo, the hotel room is about the size of Chez Beshemoth, and we have a patio outside where I am actually allowed to smoke, praise every god, and there is a joyfully-gurgling fountain so I will have to get up and go to the loo seven times a night. The Bossman was rather shocked that I immediately tried to unpack into a heap on the floor, being unused to this ‘cupboards’ lark. I fear for our relationship already.
The hotel is not in San Francisco, it turns out, but a city called Sunnyvale. I had assumed this was a suburb, (after checking it was not actually the hometown of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but apparently not. And we promptly drove to an entirely different city to look for dinner. I was starting to become a little alarmed by the scale of the place. I was also a bit alarmed to hear we were off to Santa Clara, but it turns out this is not the city where all the goddamn vampires are in Lost Boys. By this time the Bossman was concerned that I had vampires on the brain, but I managed to distract him by speculating about the Winchester Mystery House, which the hotel literature mentioned as a good place to tourist it up. Sadly, due to the scale of America, it may well be a whole day’s drive away, and the Bossman needs the car for work. Muggins here will be taking the train – however, the Bossman has thoughtfully booked a hotel within walking distance of the Caltrain to San Francisco. Aww.
We ended up at a little outdoor Mexican place on Santana Row, under the stars and space heaters, where a live Mexican band played Santana songs and we had spicy food and a jug of margeritas. I was frozen to the bone, so much for my ‘oh my god it is positively balmy here!’ reaction when it was daylight, and that was despite wearing leggings and a jumper. I watched despondently as the locals danced in miniskirts and bare legs (and wicked tall heels) to the band, feeling frumpy as hell and wondered how they survived. Maybe they were vampires.
However, we have successfully crossed oceans and met up and have all our stuff and a holiday ahead of us! Erm, well, I have a holiday ahead of me. But the Bossman has tomorrow off too, hurrah!