Two nights ago I returned from a holiday.
This was the first time I’d left the country in about two years, and although I had a great time and really enjoyed myself, I was also reminded why I don’t make a habit of leaving the country.
I am utterly useless at being on holiday.
I know many people who always seem to be living anywhere except the country that they actually live in. Studying abroad, working abroad, going abroad for no other reason except to be abroad, all that stuff.
Those people are excellent at being abroad. They enjoy it and have a good time living in places that aren’t their home.
I excel at living at home. Probably one of my finest talents.
You see, from beginning to end, there’s always a little nagging in my mind when it comes to holidays.
Most people say how excited they are about their holidays and how they can’t wait to be lying in the sun and having a good time and getting away from it all.
I just have a little voice in my mind telling me how long it’s going to take me to pack my bag, how I’m going to forget something anyway, how I’m going to beep in the airport security thing and how my plane is going to crash anyway and in my final few seconds I’ll be thinking to myself how I should have just stayed at home and watched Arrested Development all day instead of trying to go off galavanting somewhere all sunny with a different language to the one I speak.
And then even if I get through the holiday, I’ll still have to return to face the unending stream of bullshit life likes to throw at you. Loads of emails to respond to. Back to work. Back to college. Back to talking to people all the time.
This year I made a list of things to pack, which helped alleviate the feeling of forgetting something. I recommend doing this a few days prior to leaving. This way you have plenty of time to remember little things and add them to the list. Then when you pack, you just tick off the list.
Naturally I beeped when going through airport security and they frisked me. I always fucking beep. It doesn’t matter what I do or wear, I always fucking beep.
Then the woman asks me if I have anything sharp in my hand luggage.
“Nope” I tell her.
She opens the bag. I was just using my laptop bag, which I carry to college every day.
Little did I know I’d forgotten to take out the scissors that I had in there for some reason.
I’d been looking for those fucking scissors a few days ago and everything, when I needed to take the tags off my new holiday clothes.
She confiscated my scissors.
On the plane, my ears suffer terrible pain. Taking off is a little sore but usually landing is far worse. One year I was about 12 years old and on holiday with my family and it was excruciatingly bad. Worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and that includes broken bones etc.
I’ve never suffered quite as badly as that since, but I’m always afraid of it.
So this year I took some painkillers onto the plane with me.
When I thought we’d be landing soon, I decided to pop my painkillers.
I had no drink with me, so just had to swallow them dry. This isn’t so pleasant, so when I did it, I accidentally made a weird noise which was a mixture of choking and coughing. I would spell the noise I made as “Achuchok”.
This would have only been a little bit embarrassing if the flight attendant guy wasn’t passing as I did it. I made the noise and he turned and looked at me.
I began to apologise and explain.
“Sorry, I was just -”
He interrupts me with “Would you like anything from the Sky Trolley?”
“Oh, no thank you.”
He looks at me and gestures that I should continue what I was about to say before he asked me about the fucking Sky Trolley.
“I was swallowing a painkiller without any water just then… that’s why I made that noise.”
“So eh… just carry on with the flight!”
I tried to make a joke at the end there, but he didn’t react at all. Instead my mate beside me just turned to me with a look of disgust and remarked “…Carry on with the flight? Who says that?”
I do, apparently. I also say “that’s why I made that noise.”
I’m starting a new trend of explaining why you make the noises that you make.
I really enjoyed that sexual act you just performed on me… that’s why I made that noise.
Joke’s on him anyway, because my ears only suffered minor twinges of pain.
Then you arrive and get through more security checks. This pisses me off. I couldn’t have gotten this far if everything wasn’t alright with me. Just let me roam free in your country where I can be ignorant and not know anything about your culture.
Then you have the heat.
The insufferable, unbearable, searing, burning heat of a Mediterranean country… in September.
I burn like an absolute bastard.
My skin doesn’t know what the sun is.
He feels a bit of sun and instantly turns red and stings for the next few days and stops me sleeping. It doesn’t matter how much sun protection I apply. I will burn. I will burn instantly. And it won’t “turn into tan” like some people say it will. That doesn’t fucking happen.
My skin burns, turns red, then gets itchy and peels and is pale again, like it should be.
I don’t know why everyone thinks a tan suits them.
Some people look great with a tan and it can be incredibly attractive.
Not everyone though.
I’m alright with my pale skin thanks.
I don’t look good in sunglasses either. No matter what sunglasses I try on, they somehow never fit me properly and rather than looking cool and suave, I look like a blind man.
Shorts. You have to wear shorts. But I’m fucked if I’m wearing those shorts with the flowers on them that everyone seems to be wearing these days. When did these shorts become alright to wear? Give me nice plain aul’ shorts, thanks.
Worst of all though, is footwear when on holidays. Flip-flops. Fucking flip-flops.
Whenever I wear flip-flops I just think to myself that there HAS to be a better invention than flip-flops. I also feel this way about umbrellas.
Us humans have created the internet for fuck’s sake. Why can’t we invent some footwear that suits the heat but doesn’t require shitloads of effort just to keep on your foot? And don’t get me started on the toe notch thing digging into the space between your toes the whole time. There simply has to be something better.
Same goes for umbrellas. Rain is a huge problem in the world. Yet the best weapon we have to fight it is this flimsy little thing that can’t stand any wind and you have to hold the entire time? Bollocks. Even make umbrellas that you can slot onto your shoulders so you don’t have to hold the whole time.
Fucking flip-flop and umbrella companies are living it up, rolling in dosh from their useless, shitty and overwhelmingly awkward products, and I’ve had enough.
And now the food.
When I go abroad I’m not expecting the food to be the same. Trying different foods is interesting and exciting, so I’m not expecting spuds and beans every meal when I’m away.
What bothers me is when I can’t get little things I want, and I don’t understand why.
I brought over my own teabags over to Spain, because Irish teabags are infinitely better than Spanish teabags. But alright, maybe the Spanish like their tea a different way than the Irish, so fair enough.
But then I wanted to buy biscuits for my tea. I had to get substandard digestives and rubbish chocolate chip cookies.
They just don’t have nice biscuits on the continent.
Why is this?
And don’t tell me it’s a taste or cultural thing. Those biscuits were fucking shite.
Is anyone seriously going to tell me that the Spanish wouldn’t enjoy a chocolate Hobnob?
Not a fucking chance.
Everyone likes Hobnobs.
I then wonder if a Spanish person came to Ireland and had a Hobnob, would they be amazed and want to bring boxes of them home?
That’s how I feel when I get to try different flavours of Calippo icepops when I’m abroad.
I like to think of myself as a fairly competent person, but being on holidays really makes me doubt this. Really basic tasks suddenly make me confused and unsettled.
Take for example, opening the door of the new place you’re staying.
When I’m at home, I can open my front door very easily. I have the key, I’ve been using it for years, and I do it without a second of hesitation.
On holiday though, I can’t open a door to save my life.
It doesn’t matter how many times I jiggle the key or try to force it to turn, I just don’t have the knack for doing it. Give that key to a three-fingered three year old child and he’d manage it before I would.
Then you have hotels that have swipe cards. You better believe that I’ll swipe that card the wrong way several times before the light goes green and I can get in.
Then you go down to the pool and have to pick up a sunbed and pick your sunbathing spot.
Does anyone in the world know the best way to pick up and carry a sunbed?
I tried several different approaches and none of them looked or felt comfortable, and when it came to placing the sunbed down in my desired spot, I couldn’t have been more awkward. Trying not to drop my towel or knock my stupid sunglasses off or get the sunbed caught in my flip-flops. Nightmare.
It always takes me so long to find the appropriate temperature in the shower when I’m away.
Likewise, I don’t understand why the toilet has two flush buttons. They both seem to perform the same function.
Then I feel like such an arsehole when I go abroad and don’t speak the local language. When foreign people are in Ireland we expect them to speak English.
But me, learn some Spanish before going to Spain? Fuck that shit. I’ll just be an ignorant, uncouth moron who says things a little bit slower and with more hand gestures and hope that everything works out alright.
But then I feel like such a fraud when I try throwing in a “Gracias” or a “Por favor”. And often they respond in English anyway, almost as if they’re telling me not to even bother tainting their language with my stupid Irish accent.
On the last day of a holiday I usually get pretty excited about being at home again.
You can’t beat your own bed.
Your own toilet.
Your own cupboards of junk food.
Waking up and not being covered in sweat.
Not having to worry about strange bugs biting you and leaving red itchy bumps on your skin.
I got home and had a cup of tea and some soda bread and went on the internet in my bed until 4am.
Today it has been raining all day.
There’s no place like home.