Far East – The Journey Begins   Leave a comment

March 20th, 2009

Two years ago, I spent my birthday in Barcelona. One year ago, I spent it with friends at a Sushi bar. Today, I spent most of my birthday in the sky.

Presently, I am sitting in an airport in L.A, waiting for a flight to Beijing. My head feels a little vacant–the first eight-hour trek has left my stomach feeling a bit off–and I’m thinking about how much can change in a year.

This morning in Jamaica I watched my little sister with a heavy heart. She shed tears as I dropped her to school. We shot each other text messages proclaiming our sibling love later in the day. It was hard to watch her go.

I spent the night at my Grandmother’s house packing and repacking my luggage, only to realize that both of my bags were twenty pounds overweight. Go figure.
The day has been a whirlwind of images and sensations, filled with last minute calls and double-checking itineraries.

I’ve never spent a birthday like this… in transit. I haven’t had time to think about it at all. Despite being in the middle of my long journey to the Far East, I haven’t been reflective, introspective or anything, I’m drawing blanks.
I’m mostly hungry and tired after six weeks that make me more aware of my ability to avoid sleep.
Only three weeks ago, I was packing up my things in my apartment in D.C, occasionally seeing touching relics from the past; postcards from an ex-girlfriend who went on a three day trip, a hair clip, gifts.
One week ago I went to a play with my entire family. We laughed heartily while watching popular Jamaican actors. The whole time I had my arms around my sisters as we laughed at joke after joke. To my left, were the voices of my parents and grandmother, who were also in attendance.
Two days ago, I woke up to the bright Jamaican sunshine. Everywhere were spotless green leaves, and clouds that looked like the top of God’s ice cream cone.
Yesterday I chatted to a dear friend of mine. “I had a dream about you,” she said. “You were dressed in white, and you were telling me all about your new life and your new girlfriend, “she said. “We were sitting and talking on a white bed. Actually everything was white. We were wearing white clothes, sitting on white sheets and the room was white too.”
I smiled as she said this. I can’t remember the last time someone told me they dreamt about me. Is her dream a glimpse into the future? Who knows. I don’t own any white clothes, and I don’t have a girlfriend.

I haven’t written much of anything in the last few months. A few emotional shifts in late 2008 have left me spiritually winded. I haven’t had much impetus to play with words. However, I promised myself that I would write something on this journey, that I would type something up before I head off to Asia.
I’m thinking about the airport. It feels distinctly American. I am used to the smells and the aura of American airports, but this time it is different. Normally I enter the U.S to have a final destination there: New York, Miami, or D.C. This time I am merely passing through. Call me an international pedestrian. Gone are the days of being sequestered in the little room because I have an F1 Visa. My days with griping with immigration are over. I’m no longer here.
The last person to check my I.D smiled at me. He was a small Mexican man with broad shoulders. “Oh Jamaica!” he said. “I want to go there someday.” This made me smile. Its good to hear people say these things; it gives me an excuse to smile on a birthday where I’ve been nauseous for one eighth of it.

Today, I am stepping into absolutely new territory. To call this stretching myself is to call it stretching myself. But in typical Marcus-esque fashion, I’m more worried about my upcoming twelve-hour flight than the demands of a new culture, job and language. I want it to be over. I want to have crossed the breadth of the Earth in one fell swoop, and wake up in my new home for a year.

This has been my most quietest birthday ever, except for a moment or two when I cursed at a yellow telephone. (yes, I argued with an inanimate object). For some reason, different phones kept eating my fifty cents to dial my parents, who are in L.A at the moment. Since I’m in the L.A airport, it should have been a painless process to call them no? I smiled as the phones kept eating my money. This kind of stuff happens when you are traveling. You are tired, winded and ugly yellow phones with automated voices become a real pain in the ass.
I eventually contacted my parents, who answered the phone with voices heavy with sleep. We chatted for a little while, and I can hear the love in their voices mixed with a slight trepidation. Their child is going on a journey. Far, far away.

“Today is the first day of Spring.” My mother said.
“Ah, so that makes today a special day.” I replied.
“Yes, she said.”

Before I said goodbye, I heard the echo of my father’s voice in the background. “Marcus!” he said with a smile in his voice. I laughed, and hung up the phone.

My heart feels warm when I speak to my parents. They are beacons of love in a harsh world. I am glad I have those beacons. It is better to focus on a handful of people that love you, than to focus on people who do not care about you at all. This is one of the most profound life lessons I have learned. Family is very important to me now, in a different sort of way. Maybe losing love and seeing more of the world has taught me what is truly important. Maybe I have more to see, who knows.

I could go on a spiel about paradigm shifts, but I already have a blog saturated with that mental mish-mash.

I’m too tired to celebrate my birthday with any real gusto. I want to eat but all the shops are closed, and I have no idea what time food will be served on my flight.  Maybe today is a special day, and that’s all I’ll need for the time being. Its chily and now i’m closing the laptop.

Bon Voyage….

Posted March 20, 2009 by marcusbird in Personal Thoughts

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