Yesterday my horoscope said, “Take your time. Life doesn’t change overnight.” I would like to disagree. Especially in the case that one boards a plane and lands in a small kingdom in the Himalayas, which is exactly what I happen to be doing today. So in this case, life does change, drastically, overnight.
As we drove to the airport I noticed that this time I did not have the old song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” on repeat in my mind. It is true that all my bags are packed and I’m ready to go but by the third trip to Asia in three months some of the romanticism has worn off. The song that has taken over in my mind is now Jim Morrison’s “Light My Fire.” As I approached Inglewood all I heard was, “The time to hesitate is through. No time to wallow in the mire” Since this time last year I have been anticipating this day and everything that is to follow. It feels that the goodbyes have been a long, drawn out process. Since leaving for China several months ago I have been saying goodbye only to return weeks later just in time to say goodbye again. So today from gate 128 in the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX, I say ‘goodbye’ in the physical sense, you won’t see me for a year. But I also say ‘hello’ because by reading my blog you may get more of me than you want.
Caitlin likes to remind me that just two years ago while on a bus ride from Brazil to Argentina, I made it perfectly clear that I was highly disinterested in Asia. “I have no need to ever go to the East.” She just reminded me of that yesterday. I didn’t realize then that I had just said that I didn’t want to see the other half of the planet. I think my maturing, (small minded) self was actually acknowledging that I had no context to understand the other half of the world. My roommate from my freshman year in college was from China. Back then I don’t think I could have named a single city in China. One time I thought to ask what her village was like where she grew up. She told me there had been ponds filled with lotus flowers. I didn’t know what a lotus flower was so I didn’t ask any more questions. That mentality was precisely why, when I landed in China several months ago, I felt like I had just discovered another wing in a house I had lived my whole life. Who knew there was so much to be seen, felt, and experienced? I didn’t even know what I had been missing. What if I went my whole life without ever seeing this? This feeling of discovery continued throughout my recent trip to Indonesia and Thailand.
So today I head back to Asia (wasn’t I just there last week?), the place I never thought I had any interest to visit. This time, I go to Bhutan, a country I didn’t know existed last year. The girl checking me in to China Airlines had also never heard of it, along with ninety percent of the world’s population. So now I know that it exists, I can even point it out on a map and tell you that Thimphu, the city where I am living is between 7,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. I can tell you that a national symbol is the image of a penis, because I read that in the Lonely Planet Guide. I can tell you that my place of employment is The Early Learning Centre, a private school in the capital. I also know that if I sit on the back left side of the plane I may be able to see Everest when we fly over. Beyond that I don’t know much. So along with the theme of this entry, goodbye California. Goodbye to tons upon tons of massive freeways, goodbye to kids on leashes, to In-n-Out (can’t say I’ll miss that), to high rise buildings, to the ocean (that’s a big one), to familiar faces, to a boyfriend, to mass media, to Costco (there is one in Kuala Lumpur if I get desperate for dish soap or cat litter in bulk) and mom and dad. And hello to...Well, I can’t pretend to know. I’ll fill you in when I get there. Miss you already.