Takeoffs and Landings, prologue

I’m staring out the window as the sun sets. It’s neither pretty nor exciting. It’s just kind of there. I used to love watching the sunset for the wonder of it all. It was SPACE! And SCIENCE! right there in my back yard. And now I’m watching it from halfway around the world and I just seem to not feel much of anything. Except bad. I feel bad I don’t feel much of anything.

I don’t remember how long I’ve been gone and I’m not entirely sure when I’m going back. This travel around the world thing seemed like a good idea at the time. It was, really, I’m not trying to deny that. I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit. I’ve now gotten drunk and masturbated in six continents (not necessarily together or in that order). I’ll give you the country breakdown at some point, it will just require a little math. Well, counting. Counting is math right?

When I started this trip I had a reason. I don’t quite remember what it was, but I know I had one. Ultimately though, I was running away. I know that now. The longer I’ve been gone, though, the more that what was making me run away fades into the ether. It was a catalyst, nothing more. Now, I’m away from it. But for the first time in my life, I have nothing in front of me that’s driving me. I don’t know when this little adventure will be over. I don’t know what it means when it is. What will I do next? This was my answer the last time I asked that question.

I’m in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s nighttime and breezy but I’m still sweating. My guest room is on the third floor inside the old city walls and the sunlight is making the clouds looks orange. Two nights ago I hooked up with this girl that I met in a cooking class. I don’t know why I took the class. I’m glad I did now. It’s not like I’m a particularly good cook or even really care about it. Seemed interesting I guess. Anyway, I met this girl and her friends and we hit it off. Laughed a lot through the class. Had drinks later. We went back to her guest house (they don’t really have hotels here, but same difference) and banged it out twice before sunrise. I woke up before her and sneaked out. Her friend was snoring in the next bed over. I don’t remember her name if I even ever knew it. This long traveling, I’ve learned it’s not worth asking most times. You’ll never use it again and fooling yourself (or the other person) that you will is insulting to both.

I’m alone now. I like being alone. Most people think that means I don’t get lonely. Not true. I just don’t always need to be around people. I didn’t start out alone. When I left, my best friend Tanner came along. He wanted to get away for the same reasons I wanted to get away. He was sad for the same reasons I was sad. And when I told him that I was going to be leaving he invited himself along. He was good like that.

I don’t mind that he came with me. I wasn’t worried he would talk about the thing that we weren’t going to talk about. I knew him better than that. He was good at the social things: meeting people, singing karaoke, being the loudest in the bar. The real stuff? Emotions and ideas, thoughts on war and poverty and hate crimes – that’s not him. Probably why he was the best person to tag along.

I left him behind in Hong Kong. After months of being together nearly every hour of every day with little to no buffer, I think we had just hit a wall. He met this girl and wanted to stay another night, but she was a fucking idiot. I wasn’t changing plans for a fucking idiot. I told him we could meet back up in India, maybe, and told him when I would probably be there. No phone and no facebook. That was part of the deal. He could email, I promised Mom and Dad I’d check in that way, but I’d rather make like it was 1992, back when I was a twelve, and if you were going to meet up with someone you just had to be where you were supposed to be when you said you would be there.

Thankfully, whatsherface from the cooking class was heading out this morning. This is why I’ve been laying low. It’s a small enough place and I didn’t want to have to run into her. Her place wasn’t too far from mine, but I took off early in the morning to go across town and hang out there. There’s a mall just a couple miles away that has a movie theater. I saw the new Batman movie, the one with the guy that died playing the Joker. It was pretty aces, and after a lunch in a Thai Pizza Hut, I saw it again. They do this thing there where they make you stand as a salute to the king before the movie plays. I don’t get it, it’s not like he can see it, but man, that’s some kind of power. I’m just some dumb 28-year-old kid from outside Chicago, a city in an entirely different country and continent and hemisphere and here I am saluting this guy. I wasn’t going to do it at first, just to see what would happen, but I bitched out. I don’t have the balls to tempt fate with a crime in a non-English-speaking country.

I’ve been gone since before Christmas. It’s summer now. I’ve decided to start writing some of this shit down. Keep track of where I’ve been, what’s happened, stuff like that. It’s a better way to spend my time than looking at sunsets at least.

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Filed under fiction, travels

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