girl downing the steps with the rising sun

girl downing the steps with the rising sun
Hitchhiking from Chumpon to Phang Nga, Thailand

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dear China,

I'm trying hard to figure you out. I know this is my first night here but things have been quite difficult so far. At first, my complex frustrations almost overtook me. It is a full moon (a "wolf moon" someone mentioned to me at the party in the City, he said it was the "brightest moon of the year." Really? Hmm. I could've said the same thing without even looking into the sky or on the weekly "oracle". My body is perfectly cued up with the waves of the ocean and the moon itself, you know what that means, let's just call it a 'vagina'.) I was convinced that gaining happiness again was like putting toothpaste back in the tube.
Now, I'm nearly glowing- I, myself, am a navigator of technology. I'm sitting at Starbucks (a place I would never normally be unless I was desperate in a frigid airport where nothing was else was open), over 3 hours since I've been off the flight from San Francisco. It took a while to get the free wi-fi going. A long while. Who thought these days it'd be so tricky setting it up? I'm on a 26 hr-layover. Tomorrow I fly to Malaysia. I remember the first time I ever stepped foot in a Starbucks- probably won't ever forget it. We were taking a walk, my mom and dad and I, around the Japan Alps during our two-and-a-half-month-long business-turned-leisure trip there. I had just turned thirteen. It must've been November and the chilled land, in all its firmness, felt nice to walk on. The road was open and the air, I imagine, was breathable. We had pink noses and I was probably wearing my usual sweater (that originally came wrapped in plastic- for all I know it'd come from a Tokyo vending machine), some chartreuse corduroy flares and a pair of skate shoes (though I was never a real skater). We entered the coffee shop after my convincing requests. We walked in and it was there I first witnessed the feeling of recognizing that I was truly a foreigner in a strange land and that the simplicity of being in a place that reminded you of home was joyful and necessary for grounding yourself while living on the road. This time, thirteen years later in China, I didn't get that feeling at all, (although I am now able to embrace how warm and bubbly youthfulness really is) because I was only being shell-shocked from airports, which is not very culturally outlandish.

I thought about leaving the airport, taking the hour-long bus ride into the city, booking into a cheap hostel that I'll have magically discovered by flapping my big lips or looking up online, and playing some pool there, exchanging some recipes from the road (like favorite skin rash-healing remedies) with some lame foreigners (like the French or English, Japanese, German, or God-forbid the Israeli) and grabbing a bite to eat. I don't see all the trouble in going bankrupt for a sleazy night out just so that I may come back in the morning with no cash in hand. I perched up a nest for the night on a couch the length of a Chinese 9 yr-old and used the blanket I stole from the airplane for cover. As usual, I slept on my most important belongings which included this laptop and some wallets and other electronics. Made for a shifty night but I managed to get in some deep snoozing none-the-less. I woke up at 6 a.m. China-time (which makes it 2 pm California-time- hey, at least I'm following some kind of a believable sleep schedule) and it seems I've been picking my nose for nearly two hours now but nothing budges, not the high-top crust patrol, dried out from having a night out in an arctic, neon gymnasium, not even the ones around the edges. They remind me of the saltine crackers I jacked from the diner in the Castro at 5 in the morning after the dance party. Five packages, the two-pack packs, now squashed, pulverized sandstone in their plastic shells. (We rode the ambulance down there to that food joint before going to pick up my borrowed chopper bike from the 5th Ave. marina.)
Earlier that night, there was a benefit party for our friend who had some drugs on him when he drove the bus down to the desert- turns out there was a warrant for him or something like that, he got out on bail and got a lawyer just in time so that he could fly to England and Germany where he'd already booked a trip to see some family. I was dressed like a bear, with makeup that used to be so-bright-turned-dingy from making out with this cute boy I once saw pictures of during my days in high school. (He was in college at the time and my friend from high school met him somewhere and during his travels in France she went to go visit him- when she came back she brought some photos that she showed me in Ms. Cunt's American Econ class so that's how I first saw him.) It was the hottest make-out sesh ever, behind the ripply vent on the rooftop of the dance studio the twins operate, on top of gravel we called "sandcastles" that was wet from the rain. It was a full, beaming moon, remember, and the sky was clear and the vent was gently producing a most elegant breeze for the set of the movie we were starring in. His bear costume was undone and I could feel his skinniness from the skin-down. I wrote “AM” in the sand (our initials, so we could “hear the radio of our hearts”) but when I lay down in all our sandcastles, my fur coat got wet on the backside- made me “look like a wet cat,” my friend later explained. On my knuckles, a trapeze-girl had written 'ASIA 1350' in permanent marker, a reminder that I was flying to China at around 2 o'clock the following afternoon.

I'm now sitting at the other cafe I slept in, still in the Beijing airport. The girl who woke me up to tell me I had to buy something just sat a cup of pipingly hot water down on the table without my asking, I think all the girls have been staring at me while I've been picking my nose and they must think I'm sick and could use a good steaming- awkward. (God, the water actually tastes like butt.) (Are they trying to passively suggest something about my personal habits that Americans portray or is it simply a Chinese gesture of kindness? Do I appear that dehydrated? Do I look poor? I mean, there are plenty of other customers around me, this is an airport for chrissakes, and I'm the only one who's been given hot water.) I also quit coffee during the past couple of months or so (the coffee in Indonesia has turned me to mush, everything else tastes like crack-coffee compared to the weakness of a real cup of "java" so I've had to slowly get back into the swing of being a beloved coffee-drinker) but I've indulged in the most perfect blend of espresso, milk and sugar. It will be savored, this is the breakfast of champions most ritualists consider as being the first serious thing of the day. They things like, "no can do, not before coffee", or "I actually did it even before coffee", paired with things like, "don't talk to me once the sunglasses are off and I've had my cup of coffee". I've never been like that, I am an afternoon-indulger, an after-meal-tastist, a social-desserter. I'm also being polite to the cafe I slept in by buying the product they sell and making it last as long as possible, which I can't see a smoothie or a mug of tea doing.

Last time I was at this airport I came across with a most "homebum flava" as well. (That time, however, I wasn't wearing the shortest free-boxed skirt you've ever seen, a "dish-rag", if you will, that I pulled from a bucket of coulda-shoulda-woulda-scabies from out in Oakland cause when I gave the dress back that I borrowed for the party I didn't just want to rock the leopard-print stockings as-is, and I was running what I thought was terribly late and the taxi was waiting so there was no time to change clothes which meant that I took the cross-Atlantic flight wearing that skanky outfit with half-smudged Bear makeup.) When I rolled in at 6 a.m. with a 12-hr layover that time, however, I didn't have any Chinese Yuan, nor did I have any U.S. dollars. China and it's nationalists decided they don't exchange Malaysian or Indonesian currency anywhere in the country, so I had to "homebum" my way into getting some free food from the girls at the buffet (Chinese food food buffet, of course). I was stoked about the thought of returning to the same buffet at the international terminal and walking in all like, "Remember me, girls? Well, guess who's back?! And for a fine 26 hours!" and then like the whispering wind asking a Singaporean businessman standing impatiently behind me, "Sir, could you please tell me how to say "mop" in Chinese?" Alas, the international terminal would not accept me as it was indeed too early for check-in so I've befriended the clan of bite-sized girls at the next joint in the domestic terminal, as equally as bored and emptied (like the trash they took out) from their brainless jobs just like the last girls were.

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