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Caught Between

Makassar airport, Indonesia

Another airport night for us. Incredibly, we got to shower. Also: the AC is not too strong, and the background music has stopped. If our flight weren't at 3:30 am, I would say we would be sleeping well tonight. Alas.

We left Malaysia without particularly noticing it. It was a progression of leavetakings--like restacking Russian dolls--that left us numb and bleary. Our thoughts were all on the future: the far reaches of Indonesia--Sorong, Waisai, Gam--another set of dolls undone. I remember once more that we aren't adventurous. The scantly tread path is not for us. If Chris weren't chasing ever more elite dive sites we would never have found ourselves there. At the same time I can't deny the thrill of going somewhere I'd hardly heard of two months ago. Isn't this precisely what we wanted--to follow our impractical whims? (Chris's wims are more expensive and rewarding than mine.)

We met a couple from California while we were in Tioman. They were our neighbors at South Pacific Chalets, Tara and Dylan from Lake Tahoe. The conversation turned as it usually does to life paths--how we ended up here at this particular moment, and then what would come after. We all expressed a familiar refrain--we didn't know; we were still suprised we had to decide. This angst over the future seems uniquely American, at least in our generation. The Europeans seem to expect their lives to meander and dismiss our worry out of hand. Tara said that our indecision stemmed from the lines we were fed when we were young--you can be anything! We misheard, substituting "everything for "anything," and then were dismayed when we found it to be untrue. I nodded. I had heard this theory before, accepted its validity at the time. But thinking again I wonder how much I believed those cheerleaders of our youth. Because in me also is the frowning paternal pragmatist with his ommnipresent edicts. "You must..." "You must not..." or, more convincingly, "You can't."

So did I ever believe in choice until now? I think I did. I balanced the two sides by biding my time. Yet, while I was busy toeing the line, the minutes were ticking away; slowly I was wriggling out from beneath his thumb.

But was I successful? Am I not loaded down with fear? I am. It is a whisper that echoes through my flesh. I am still caught.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Indonesia

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