Monday, May 30, 2005

Leaving on Jet Plane

I think when I wake up tomorrow the trip will start again. I’ll fly to Vientiane, Laos and say goodbye to Vietnam and three weeks of air-conditioned rooms shared with New York travel companions. It’s been nice having Jason and Elise riding shotgun for most of May but there isn’t much point in worrying about whether I prefer traveling with friends from home or not because I don’t have much choice anyway. They just sort of showed up. And then they left. Elise’s departure tonight was hard but, as she often reminds me, I don’t need to reveal the details of my personal life on the internet, so I’ll leave it at that.

While Jason and Elise were here I didn’t do much writing or work on the documentary. I didn’t meet many new people. I never felt lonely and rarely felt stressed. It was like a vacation from the vacation and now I’m ready to get back to business. I can feel my head turning back on; a constant dialogue is replaced by an internal monologue. In a way it feels more natural or at least familiar.

On the way back from leaving Elise at the airport I met up with a Japanese backpacker just getting into Hanoi. I helped her find an area in the city with a lot of guesthouses (with the help of her Lonely Planet). It was late and everything was closed up and I had to bang on the closed metal gate to get let into my place. The groggy receptionist lied to the Japanese girl, saying there were no vacancies. I headed up to room 304 and she went down the street looking for another place to stay. It was the quintessential backpacker relationship; we met, traded stories, helped each other pass some time and find our way, then parted.

It occurred to me that there might be some lesson in my trip to the airport, in the idea that I had once again left someone I cared about but was satisfied to pass the time with someone I knew I’d never have to care about and could painlessly leave. But there’s no need to delve into the details of my personal life, Elise would remind me. And anyway, I’m heading back to the airport in six hours so maybe it will be clear then.


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