A Wisconsin boy + no wifi

So my time on this tour is rapidly drawing to a close.
I’ve seen some amazing cities, got choked up over some museum exhibits, ate some seriously delicious (and delicious-at-the-time-but-not-so-great-later-on) food and successfully found my way into my own Taylor Swift-esque squad.
I originally relegated any thoughts of making new friends to the kids’ table. But life took a turn.
It took a Swiss girl, a Wisconsin boy and a lack of wifi to change my mind about what fun was.
The Amtrak is a rail network that spans the US. And, compared to travelling on a Greyhound bus from Savannah to Atlanta, it’s fucking luxurious. (Sorry mum, but the strong language was absolutely correct and necessary).
Other than it being like a slow, meandering aeroplane, it has big comfy seats and wifi, so you can shut the curtain on the gorgeous towns you travel through and stream some True Detective instead.
So I thought, hell yes, I’ll catch up on my Facebook newsfeed, read up on some news from home, watch some cat videos and just be anti-social, 21st century-style.
Then. It happened.
Just like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s big wheel kept on turning, so did the wifi search wheel on my iPad.
No connectivity.
The trip was slated as 11 hours.
The humanity.
Now, I could do some stuff, like reading the one, thin magazine that was being passed around like a can of Tooheys at a high school ball after-party, or looking out the window to find the ‘shack-iest shack’ among the woods and cornfields whizzing past the train window.
There was only so many times I could pace up and down the carriage like an animal, so I went up to my tour leader Andy and my Swiss mate Grit and said what I had been dreading: ‘Guys, I’m so sorry, but we’re going to have to talk to each other’.
So we kicked off with that great American game of Two Truths and a Lie.
Andy is a really great guy. I want to keep him in my pocket. But, he’s not just a 25-year-old bloke from Wisconsin (you know that joke ‘how do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you’, just swap ‘vegan’ for ‘Wisconsin’. He fricken LOVES Wisconsin), he’s equal parts interesting, intelligent and goofy. Yes, I have a massive crush on him.
Andy is the only boy who’s sort of part of our squad. The squad is made up of Morgan, Grit, Katie and myself. We’ve all naturally gravitated toward each other.
As it turns out, Andy has a theory.
It’s a theory of ‘fun’.
He says there are three types of fun.
Type 1: You head to the beach, the ball game, Disneyland, a band. If it goes to plan, the fun is generally imminent and not hard to find.
Type 2: Where the fun finds you although your Type 1 plans turn uncomfortable or unexpectedly off-piste, but not in a dangerous way. You generally look back and think, ‘actually that was awesome’.
Type 3: Where something goes terribly, almost life-threateningly wrong, but you get out of it without being hurt, or hurting anyone else. There is a possibility of harm but you don’t go seeking it out. Like suddenly coming face-to-face with a bear in the woods or finding yourself flung into some rapids in which you narrowly avoid a notorious rock that has previously pulled other kayakers to their deaths thanks to a strong undertow.
Andy says these are the three types of ‘fun’, I see them as three types of making memories and harvesting stories. He says you should aim for a Type 1 experience but, travelling on the wifi-less train, it wasn’t really happening.
Sometimes you don’t realise which ‘type’ is happening until it’s over.
Such as travelling on a wifi-less train and ending up having a hysterically funny – and at times, intensely deep – discussion which stemmed from a game of Two Truths and a Lie.
And not really comprehending how great it was until maybe four days later. Or, while waiting for another train, finding a frisbee in a car park and having an impromptu game of ‘don’t drop it’ for about an hour.
The thing I love about Andy is his way of finding and re-telling stories, something I try to do for a living, and coming up with a really interesting theory about how they find him. Even just explaining the theory leads to storytelling.
I’m going to miss the squad.
But I’m really going to miss that Wisconsin-loving, ridiculously smart, dad-joke goofball Andy.

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