05.14.2013 - 05.14.2013
At the pier. We've five hours to wait. Chris has gone off to explore, but an infected wound on my ankle roots me to the bench. Now that we are out of the airport it is very clear we have left Malaysia. The language, the food may be similar, but the feel is drastically different. Everywhere we turn we encounter enormous, friendly curiosity. Sitting here writing already two men have stood to my right, peering over my shoulder to see what I scribble. I look up, smile, say hello. They smile and continue to peer. Eventually they move away.
We are odd creatures once more.
Already three people have initiated conversations with us. In the last we pretended we were Filipinos. This story always seems to elicit more enthusiasm than "Americans," which only confuses. Of course we are caught out a little when our conversation partner began probing us about the president Aquino and the word for "spicy" in Tagalog. We laughed, murmured, threw desperate glances at each other. Eventually our new friend left, but we aren't sure he won't reappear in the next five hours.
The port is full of wandering, idle men, most of whom are here for work, but what type of work I cannot easily deduce. They traipse in front of me, largely ignoring me, but still my ears twitch in anticipation of being questioned. Likely it won't be in English, and thereafter would proceed an unsuccessful pantomime. At its conclusion we would both laugh at our clumsy attempts and leave each other, wondering what had just transpired.
If so much curiosity was piqued by pen and notebook, how much more would my Kindle evoke? I think I must content myself with paper for now.
* * * * *
It rains and then stops, rains and stops. The smell that lingers in the puddles reminds me of Western North Carolina. North Carolina! It seems exotic to me now. Slow and hot and loud with birdsong. Salamanders in slick rocks.
Or, desperately: The crunch and crackle of a rainbow of fall leaves underfoot. The pungent smell of the air's chill mixed with wood smoke. Shuddering in the dark, the electric blanket (Rachel's godsend gift one birthday or Christmas) not big enough for the both of us. Hendersonville lit up like Paris. I walked the streets alone at night, dreaming of all the restaurants where I'd eat with Chris when he came to visit. Not enough visits to fit my dreams. I was wild with cold, and still it did not snow.
Then it did snow. A miracle of white. I got sick, and Jess and Ben brought me fudge and laughter. I got better. We hiked in icy gullies, complained of frozen fingers and toes. The pain was real, but now it all seems a pleasant, faded photograph. We marched on; I was just a passenger.
I didn't know what was happening at the time. I didn't know I would remember it so fondly. An otherwise blank canvas dotted with imperfect, bright splotches--everything vivid but the color.
Don't you think your entire life will be like that when you look back on it--one long pleasant, slightly false reminiscence? The happiest times are always four years ago. I'm getting too old.
One and a half hours to go.