Spain | The Exciting Adventures of Indecisive-Man

Now, I need to fast forward these diaries a week or so, because once again time slipped away from me and I neglected to write anything. Here we, here we, here we flippin’ go.

Sam and I arrived in Spain feeling pretty good, barring the mysterious flu which continued to chomp away at me. We took a bus from Algeciras to Marbella, and from there we got a taxi to Cala de Mijas, a little town on the Costa del Sol. There we met Sam’s friend Laura, who’d flown out from London to meet us ahead of the Cala Mijas festival. We had an apartment nearby where we’d crash for the duration: poolside during the day, festival at night.

The weekend was a heavy one. Day one was spent getting our bearings, and I had an early night because my sneaky illness was still giving me a good kicking. On day two Sam’s older sister and her boyfriend arrived, and we attended the festival and watched Blossoms, Bonobo and Arctic Monkeys, and it was a lot of fun. The Arctic Monkeys played an unbelievable setlist. Here it is:

Do I Wanna Know?

Brianstorm

Snap Out of It

Crying Lightning

Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair

Potion Approaching

The View From the Afternoon

Cornerstone

That’s Where You’re Wrong

Pretty Visitors

Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?

I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am

Do Me a Favour

From the Ritz to the Rubble

I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor

Knee Socks

505

One Point Perspective

Arabella

R U Mine?

A fucking blistering setlist. I cried during That’s Where You’re Wrong; it’s one of my favourite songs of all time, and they haven’t played it live for nine years. Last time they played it I was 20 years old. That song has been with my through everything. I remember listening to it at university in 2011, in the midst of a dark period where I spent a lot of time thinking about life and death and being so scared of it all – all those big horrid existential questions – then hearing the lyric:

Don’t take it so personally, you’re not the only one

That time has got it in for, honey

That’s where you’re wrong

And it just lit something up inside me – soothed me – made everything okay. It was a balm.

And then I remember listening to it on a rooftop in 2018, at the end of my India trip, when I’d made it through everything in one piece and stood there looking at the sky, laughing with gratitude. Hearing that song live after all these years just… I dunno.  It was a hell of a moment. Even thinking of it now sets my arm hairs on end.

Another highlight was From The Ritz to the Rubble: I sang so loud I went light headed and had to take a few deep breaths. That song is a work of genius – absolute genius. And of course there were the songs we played with our old band, Sex Rain, back when Sam and I were teenagers: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor and Brianstorm. I could be a hundred years old, I’d still get up to air guitar. The adrenaline kicks in just as hard as it did sixteen years ago.

On day three Sam’s sister and her boyfriend left, and instead our friend Mike flew out to join us, and we spent a very rowdy evening watching Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk and Hot Chip. By day four, my flu had abated somewhat, but a cumulative four-day hangover took its place and felt much the same. The final headliner was Liam Gallagher, and he played a phenomenal show. This was his setlist:

Morning Glory

Hello

Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

Wall of Glass

C’mon You Know

Better Days

Stand by Me

Roll It Over

Slide Away

Soul Love

More Power

Diamond in the Dark

Once

Cigarettes & Alcohol

Wonderwall

Live Forever

Champagne Supernova

I lost my voice completely during his set; I sang every single word at the top of my lungs – if you can even call it singing. More ‘insane tuneless screaming’. Oasis were the first band I ever loved. They’ll always have a special place in my heart. I nearly killed myself singing Live Forever, and during Champagne Supernova Sam, Laura, Mike and I put our arms around each other, singing in unison. It was really beautiful, and a perfect finish to the weekend.

The next morning, Mike and Laura flew home – going off only a few hours’ sleep. Sam and I stayed another night in the apartment, but it was a very quiet day: I slept until the evening, then we went for a burrito in an empty restaurant and that was that.

The next day, we tidied the apartment and left in a taxi for Malaga airport. Sam was flying home; I wasn’t. My own plans hadn’t formed yet, and I decided simply to chill in Malaga for a while to figure things out.

I said goodbye to Sam at the airport, after spending every minute of two straight weeks together. I’m pretty sure it’s the longest uninterrupted time we’ve ever spent together. We didn’t bicker even once, which surprised me pleasantly. Our travels might have been a little hairy, but we made a brilliant travelling duo. It was a strange parting of ways: neither of us knew what the next few weeks or months would have in store. Sam would need to navigate the breakup upon returning home, starting a new job and finding a new flat. And I would need to… just… figure out what the hell I was doing with my life. Two big questions marks, going their separate ways towards whatever new strangeness life has in store.

Our goodbye wasn’t emotional – they never have been. They don’t really need to be; it’s all understood anyway. We hugged, bumped fists, and said ‘see you later’, and I went out of the airport to find a bus to the city, and Sam went to find the departures board.

And that was that: I was on my own again.

*****

I spent a week in Malaga being very antisocial. I checked into a hostel and didn’t make a single friend; I didn’t want to. I wanted to be alone and not speak to anyone and slowly nurse my long-suffering body back to health and finally catch up on my diaries. So that’s what I did: I spent every day for one week in the same manner. Each morning I got up, showered, walked to a cool little café I found down an alleyway, and sat there for three to four hours with a coffee and a muffin, typing away like a nutter.

In the afternoons, I would head back to the hostel for a siesta, then head out once the worst of the day’s heat had passed. Then I’d go for a walk somewhere pretty – harbour, park, castle – and call somebody on the phone for a chat. I called my brothers, my mum and my dad, asking each of them for their advice on what I should do next.

With my France Workaway plan scuppered by my Schengen days expiring, I had to figure something else out. I could go back to London, perhaps, and try to find a new flat – a better one – and work as a freelance writer while also working gigs as an extra for films; that could be a fun way to live. But something about London leaves a sour taste now, after the difficult, dark year I spent there. I thought about applying for jobs in Berlin, but something about that didn’t feel quite right either – I’d spent so long learning French, it seemed a shame to switch to learning German and risk losing it all.

No, my heart was set on France. I researched visas and they’re hard to get. For somebody my age to get a long-stay French visa post Brexit, you need to either have a job offer, earn a freelance income of over €36,000 a year, or be an ‘artist’ who makes their living through producing art/literature. Those are my options, and none of them are going to be easy. My best bet, I decided, is to finish my TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) that I’ve been doing online, and apply to a bunch of English teaching jobs around the country. That might get me the job offer I need, and would allow me to get a foot in the door.

Thing is… finishing the course would take a long time, and I only had a week of Schengen time left before I reached my 90 days and was forced to leave. I needed to go somewhere in the meantime, but… where?

Mexico.

That’s where.

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