Urban Planning for Hangovers
There is much to discover in the San Luis Obispo area. In almost three months of being here I have managed to explore many of the little towns surrounding the city. These little towns have stimulated my inner voyeuristic, anthropologist weirdo. I recalled a creepy text I got from my friend when he was riding Amtrak. He was elated that he was high enough to look into every car below him. Of course he was scoping for cleavage, but there is the similar predisposition to watch strangers from afar. I am enamored with the unique folks in these places. There are some interesting haunts too… You just got to let your freak fly. While I was languishing in my own filth after a night out, I realized these jaunts out to these small towns constitute adventure and would be apropos for my blog. So here. This is what it’s like to be in a random place hungover.
It was 1230 in Arroyo Grande, a small city 15 minutes south of San Luis Obispo. I was scrambling to get food to nurse the most apocalyptic hangover I have ever experienced. Honestly, I was disgusted with myself; I’m sure I drove and conducted the job interview which drew me out here still drunk. The night before, a couple friends and I killed a bottle of cherry vodka while watching “Life of Pi” and then hit up the dismal San Luis Obispo bar scene. My friend drove me from her apartment where I passed out to my van and I barely made it to my interview on time. I’m sure my slight inebriation made me much more affable, articulate, and charming than my usual anxious self.
The center of Arroyo Grande has a very cutesy old-timey surf country aesthetic. Proponents of new urbanist architecture would swoon at AG’s urban form. The town proudly calls itself a village. CuteCuteCute. The storefronts are right on the sidewalk and there’s even colored brick in the crosswalks. Many of the patios have seating which spills out onto the sidewalk. It’s a very walkable environment, unless you have the wrath of Thor raining down upon your brain. With my head cocked to the side in an attempt to nurse my unbearable nausea I walk past a number of little eateries before stopping at a place called Branch Street Deli. They have grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m sold. I order my food and run to the bathroom to deal with the cruel realities of bad decisions. The food is ready once I come out. My excitement can barely be contained. I can’t handle the classic rock streaming on the speakers so I sit outside. Two bites into my grilled cheese my stomach my head starts spinning and my stomach turns. I burp. Oh shit. I grab my food and start heading towards the parking lot, but I could not move fast enough. Projectile vomit shoots out of my mouth all over the stairs and into my hair. I sit on a curb to let my body complete its processes. My private life has become public in a small town setting. Good thing I don’t live here or else I’d be the talk of the town! A man in textbook cowboy attire: cowboy hat, tight pants, tucked in button up shirt, Sam Elliot moustache, is conversing across the street with a woman. Neither of them seem to be phased by my public puking party. The restaurant worker on his phone doesn’t say anything either. I start to wonder if I am invisible or if this display is normal. Suppose it’s simpler to not care and ignore.
I slither ashamed into the back of my van. Eventually I find myself on my side eating the rest of the grilled cheese and fries with ranch before I pass out. A couple hours later I am woken up by the rain. Glad no one found my behavior suspect and called the AGPD. My hangover is still as intense as ever, but I could not spend all day being a vomit covered vagrant sleeping in the back of their van in Arroyo Grande. I muster the courage to start heading home. Suddenly I panic as I pull out because a mob of middle school aged children have flooded the streets. It’s 3PM on Friday at this point. Children sit in the front patios of all the restaurants to indulge in cheeseburger and burritos before their metabolisms slow down and they have to think way too much about what they eat. As I try not to commit manslaughter I smile when I see how the happy kiddos are to embrace the weekend. My head throbs intensely as I sit at the stop sign waiting for the parade of energetic girls and boys go by me. Growing up in Menifee we didn’t have this. We would all go to Target and later on the Temecula Promenade which is now trying to mimic the same old-timey village downtown look. I remember when I didn’t get hangovers like this. The hangover is a wake up call to spend my time more wisely. Evenings of drinking could instead be times of creative fervor. Guess I get caught up in the idea of being hardcore. The ego must be challenged.
I take the van down the main street. There’s a cute park on the left. There’s a bridge over a creek. It’s all so idyllic. Especially on a rainy day when you are hungover. There’s even a place called Doc Burnstein’s ice cream lab. Sounds like somewhere wonderful magical events take place, but my body was in no state to enjoy such an indulgence. The center of Arroyo Grande is very quaint, walkable, and compact while the rest of town looks more like typical suburbia. I head over to the local big box shopping center. I met a man at the Trader Joe’s in town whom takes his pet goats stand up paddle boarding. He had them tied up to his 80s era toyota compact car in the parking lot. They were content munching on a patch of grass.
The central coast is never free of surprises. So thrilled to get to be weird as ever out here. Not so hungover, signing out. La Juana del Oeste.