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Monday, July 25, 2005

My Life From Afar

Right now I am sitting in the comfort of Hong Kong Library (maybe the nicest library I've been in for what its worth) using free internet and letting my shirt dry after a bit of a ramble this morning.

I arrived last night after 26 hours of assorted airplanes and airports and thoughts as to what in the (fill in word of your choice) I am doing. Those thoughts came back with a vengeance last night when I woke up in my tiny three bed room (with a toilet I have to sit sideways on in order to fit in the bathroom) when I reailzed I would not be seeing my girlfriend for close to six months.

Some of this was eased at about seven this morning when I watched ships appearing from out of a mist over to one side of Hong Kong Island. They then made their way past the island's stunning skyline.

Since then I applied for my Chinese visa and will wait until Wednesday to get it. From there it will be on to GuangZhou.

The rest of the morning was spent drifting around, through cheap eating areas populated by Filipinos and Indonesians, down the main roads surrouned by glass sky scrapers and through Victoria Park. Later I will head up to Victoria Peak to catch the late afternoon light and then I suppose I will head back to my tiny room in the dingy Mirador Mansions for a shower, a bite to eat, and what I pray will be a full night of sleep.

That reminds me of one more thing. Mirador is a fourteen (or more) story building built around a central open area. There are a whole host of backpacker (ie cheap) accomodations here. At 11 last night when I was getting in I was approached by Indians, Africans, and finally a tiny Chinese woman, all offering places. The shops in the mazed interior corridors were shutting down when I arrived, but the air was still full of the life that no doubt populates the days. As I left this morning, it was empty, the center area. Clothes hung from various levels and the only sounds were of dripping water and a woman sweeping a few floors down. This was one of those moments that makes you feel like you've been dropped into a conglomeration of all the films you've ever seen that have been filmed in a certain location. Anyway, it was a nice moment.

So, I thought I would share something I jotted down shortly after saying goodbye to Natalia at the aiport yesterday - maybe it will give you an idea of the rather questionable frame of mind I am in right now:

I have been writing the first line to this essay for a long time now. It has lived many lives - as a etary-eyed good bye, an excited outburst, as a studied expression of philosophy. In the end, as you can see, it is nothing more than another procrastination.

I am traveling to Asia for finve months, from Hong Kong to Singapore. I have been planning a trip like this for a long time now (without doing any actual planning, mind you). It is not my longest trip. Really, five months doesn't even suond like a long time. While others around me fret about bird flu, theft, Islamic extremism, et al,I feel no particular concern. Why then do Ifeel as if Ihave never achieved the level of unpreparedness that accompanies me as I wait for my flight to Tokyo?

A few hours ago, my girlfriend departed for New York. From there she will return to Buenos Aires. We will be apart for close to 6 months. That sounds like a long time.

Last night we met with some friends of mine, guys Isee once or twice each time Ireturn home. We shot the shit and had some beers and for awhile the one thing Iwanted most in life was to get drunk with them and pretend to be 21.

Later my girlfriend and I were sitting on the sofa and watching a movie. Her head was on my chest and soon it was wet with tears and snot. I could no longer say we would just be apart for six months. Six months? What was I thinking?

Saying good-bye to her today, I did something I never...I cried. An hour after admonishing my mother for doing the same thing, I cried. My nose ran. My throat was raw from stifling sobs.

If I was the narrator of a book of fiction, I would say now that I am embarking on one last great act of selfishness.

I have been traveling or living abroad or moving across the U.S...Ihave been in motion for about eight years now. In that time I have seen and done a lot of things. I have met a lot of people. Through it, though, I have been detached - creating for myself the illusions that I was narrating a fiction, the story of my life from afar. This trip, perhaps, is not about the things I say it is : taking pictures and seeing the world. Perhaps, at its root, it ia a fight for control of my future; to remove myself from my world of illusion and return me into a more solid world, a more solid life in which experiences are felt at a deeper level, in which the achievement and holding onto of love is more important than the achievement of stories to tell others, the stories we use to make us and our lives feel more unique, more lived than they otherwise might be.

Twenty-nine and alone in an airport one more time. A blurred past and an unclear future. A girlfriend who is about as close to a world apart from me as one could be.

How did I get here?

3 Comments:

Anonymous shawn said...

wow! that was intense! i'm speechless.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

You got "here" by having a hunger for a world. I'm sure that's one of the reasons that Natalia fell in love with you in the first place.

Have a wonderful trip.

1:15 AM  
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8:43 AM  

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