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Sleeping in Unconventional Places

Oh! It's February 11, that day that was always in our heads, the day we'd have to be in Guayaquil so we could make our flight to the Galapagos, the date that drove all the other dates, flipping us around South America so we could be here, downstairs in the arrivals area, passengers facing each other and trying not to catch one another in the eye. Overhead, neutral, inoffensive jazz music plays, and the man across from me (young, really) wobbles his foot to it. Chris said, "Do you like the department store music?" I shrugged. "Reminds me of home, I guess." "That's the trick they pull in airports," he told me. "You could be anywhere."

But we're in Ecuador and we're spending the night at the airport. We're always embarrassed to tell anyone. It's like saying you sleep in your car, and it doesn't matter if your car is just as comfortable as a motel bed. The part where you brush your teeth in the supermarket bathroom is no fun, though. Not because it's dirty or inconvenient but just because you have to sneak it, and it becomes stressful. I've slept overnight at school, too. I had to keep changing rooms to avoid the janitor. It wasn't so bad except that it was lonely, but I was going home soon. That was the time Jason came and picked me up.

I was in the bookstore earlier. They had coffee table books of Ecuador and I saw a picture that so reminded me of the California coast that my heart ached. I thought all this traveling just made me love California more, especially that wild stretch just below the Bay Area--Big Sur, home of new-age hippies and Henry Miller and young professionals transformed into weekend hikers and anyone who ever pretended to love the Golden State. So Ecuador has a piece of that, too. No surprise. It's all still Pacific coast.

The traveling is beginning to feel like running away. Get tired of one place? Run to another. The world is big enough that you'll never run out of places. What am I running from? Boredom. Reality. My parents. Questions. Expectations. The kind of cold that creeps into your bones when you don't move for three hours. Staleness. Those headaches that make your vision blurry. Books I've read but forgotten. The long-dead promise of hope.

Chris is finally asleep. I can tell because his head keeps falling deeper into my lap, and his mouth is open. I've run out of steam. Going back to reading now.

Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Ecuador

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