And you may ask yourself: Well, how did I get here?

The other day, I found myself in a crowded mini-bus zig-zagging across chaotic Kowloon.  The bus driver was having a lively discussion with a gentleman sitting in back the of the vehicle.  Other passengers seemed to be adding to the conversation by either talking directly at them, or addressing the closed windows before them.  Maybe they were complaining.  Maybe they were psychotic.  Who knows?

We were nearly in two traffic accidents, and it occurred to me that I might meet my maker in front of a wet market in Kowloon, fish flapping about in their shallow tanks.

I stepped off, and was immediately lost.  My partner would have been happy–we love to argue over who has a better sense of direction.  Clearly that day, it wasn’t me (although drop me in Nice, Kuala Lumpur or Buenos Aires and I’ll take you where you want to go rickity sprit).

I’m a calm guy, so I wiped the sweat off my forehead, took out the pack of cigarettes I had just purchased, and tried not to think of jumping in a cab and instructing the driver to take me to the Peninsula Hotel.  Remember, make vodka lemonade when you get lemons.  But then I realized how guilty I’d feel, and yes, I thought about the children.

My first lesson had been a success.  The joy of teaching had returned quickly.  I took over that class like Putin over Russia.  No need to poison any exiled blokes, I had these kids eating out of the palm of my hand.  There was no reason to think my next class would be populated by rejects and robots.  This isn’t Japan after all.  This is China!

And so I asked for directions.

“Sorry, no English.”

“Mmm, no.  No.  Sorry.”

“I don’t know speak English.”  And this from a little girl dressed in the uniform of the school I needed to locate.

Fuck me.

Maybe I was back in Tokyo?

On the train to the school that afternoon, I found myself getting anxious, nervous and ill.  I knew I planned to buy more cigarettes (a nasty habit that returns when I’m stressed, made ugly by the fact that I have to hide it from my partner).  I knew I had to think of the big picture, the damn forest from the trees.  But all I saw was one spruce, and she was trembling in the wind and on a train below Victoria Harbor headed towards Kowloon.

So I did what I always do in these situations.  Pull out my iPod and choose songs that say, “Bitch, calm the fuck down!”

Abbey Lincoln’s “Not to Worry” and “Being Me” and The Beatles “All you Need is Love” followed by Trio Los Panchos singing “Cielito Lindo” for good measure.

In my mind, I was back in New York walking to my local bodega, the fall leaves crunching beneath my feet.  I was looking out the small window at the tops of poofy, white clouds as the airplane ascended.  I was at an embassy party in D.F. watching my parents dance, my mom reluctantly.  I realized my eyes had misted over after I caught an elderly local man staring at me.

And now, as I stare at the boats in the harbor I think, “Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.  It’s easy.

Advertisements