little travel stories
Flight somewhere between Mexico and Houston, 2011. I was reading Rilke, decided to take a break and placed the book on my lap, face down. The man beside me glanced over and asked how is the book. I said really good. We soon started talking about books and our jobs. He told me his wife is a retired nurse and they own a little ice cream shop in Arizona and some of their teenage workers have a hearing impairment.
Come and see us if you're in the area. My wife will make you her special ice cream and you can talk to the kids in sign language, he said while handing me his business card. I smiled and said thank you, remembered a long-ago summer when I took a sign language class for the first time, how sad and broken I was, how signing and not talking helped me through my pain. Later, I wrote this in my journal: it's amazing how forgotten stories come back to you in the most random places.
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Night market in China, 2001. We walked side by side, falling behind from the rest of our group who were busy shopping, neither of us interested in buying anything. It was my last night in Xiamen, the end of our 5-day cultural exchange trip, he was one of the graduate students assigned as our guide by the Chinese government. We immediately hit it off, always talking to each other, we both were interested in international relations, literature, learning. Finally, here is someone that I can really talk to, I thought.
Do you think you can fall in love with someone who doesn't believe in a God, a higher being, he asked. I looked at him and didn't say anything. All around us shopkeepers were almost shouting, inviting people to look at their wares. I remembered catching a glimpse of fake designer bags, the smell of street food, how our hands were nearly touching, how my feet hurt from walking, how everything was filled with so much energy. It all seemed unreal, even the beautiful boy beside me, the one asking questions that my 21 year-old self wasn't prepared to answer.