Here is sit, typing away in a tube of metal and glass 12,226 meters above the ground. As I hurtle towards the Eastern continent, it is easy to enjoy a feeling of stasis; sitting amongst plastic headrests, polyester pillows and the quiet roar of twin turbines. Other passengers, recumbent and comfortably slumbering, pass the time in silence. A few wander the isles, but no one speaks. Together we wait for the tube to descend from the sky like a great white missile and deliver us to an upside down world.
I remember when I first came this world, sitting in quiet stasis for a quiet eternity and then stepping out into the night and noticing that the moon was upside down and dark-skinned boys were unloading our baggage. In that time I was someone else, and I looked to the East with all the excitement and apprehension of a fairytale. In my mind's eye I saw rice paddies and a giant island paradise with all the silly nievete of somebody who has never actually left the shores of North America.
Much has happened since that wild-eyed time. I found the paradise but I also found a struggle simply to exist and have the few qualities of life necessary to afford me basic happiness.
After getting so lost and sick and lonely and miserable and jaded that I nearly gave up on the whole thing I managed to carve a little hole out for myself in Saigon in community where I could exist and be inspired and live like a human for a little while. Most of the time it was great and I remember a few specific moments when it all felt alright, and when I had an overwhelming conviction that I'd managed to find something good.
But I gave that up; to return to North America and reconnect with the only people who have been constant in my life since I have been audience to it.
And now I am hurtling back towards it all again, wrought with apprehension. Although I have rationalized plenty of reasons in my own mind the reality is that I just want to chase that visceral, hair-tearing, adrenaline-inducing, vision-shifting way of life that come from living in a part of the world where the maps aren't accurate.