Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

If you had dropped me off in Phnom Penh at the beginning of this trip I probably would have been like "Holy Shit! This is a crazy third world city." Now, I'm not saying that it would have been completely different (I would have been awkward and unsure of myself anywhere), but it would have been different than the way I eased myself in to this trip.

As it was, after two weeks in Myanmar, arriving in Phnom Penh seemed like walking into a civilization again. I wrote at great length about the differences between Myanmar and the rest of the places I have traveled to, so I will skip that this time. Basically, walking back into a city that is attached to the rest of the world was just as shocking as walking into Myanmar. Imagine my amazement when I rediscovered broadband internet. It was fascinating! It was just, just...on. You didn't have to dial a phone number. There were no beeping noises and static. And the speed, well, did you know these days that you could receive one email in less than half an hour? OK, I admit to using a primitive broadband connection in Mandalay, but it still can't count as "high speed". Anyway I digress.

Reentering a connected country was pretty crazy. The stark contrast between Myanmar and The-Rest-of-the-World is about as much convincing as anyone would need to see that Myanmar is neck deep in shit. That's all I'm going to say about that any more.

So for anyone who doesn't know this trip is coming to an end for me. I will be home in three weeks. A bit over eight months will have passed and I will step out of travel and back into, well, what? That's just it, I don't have a clue. I have made some plans for when I get back; things that I will do in the first few days; people I will call; places I will eat; the vague notion of some dream job. "Doing what?" you ask. Uh, well...uh...maybe this, like...um...job???

How do I go back to having a home? Seeing people that I have known for months or years, not hours or days? Do I even remember how to cook? Can I drive anything that possesses a steering wheel? Am I going to forget that I can't barter for things, and try to talk down a cashier at Trader Joe's over a couple of Clif Bars?

And what about the bigger issues? I didn't randomly get handed $20,000 dollars just to wander around aimlessly. Oh, wait a second that is what happened... Surely though it must have had a purpose. WHAT WAS IT?!?!? What will be the things that stay with me the most? There are so many. How are they going to shape my life? I know that a year ago I wrote to the Bonderman committee about how I wanted to study diet and lifestyle and their effects on health. For several years I was obsessed with science and medicine. I spent hours memorizing metabolic pathways and studying cancer at a molecular level. Eigth months later my dreams of starting medical school have disolved. Replaced with new dreams and ambitions. Is this a good thing? I don't have a clue. What does this mean about August? Am I someone who just throws away plans and years of work? Or am I someone who follows his heart? All these questions to answer.

Some questions will probably never be answered. The answers to others maybe obvious the day I get back. Basically, I don't know what to expect. The same giddy feelings I had before I left on this trip are the same ones I have now. Before starting this trip I described my feelings as progressing sinusoidally. The same pattern of emotions has followed me throughout this trip, and now, as I prepare to return home, I realize that at least in that regard nothing has changed. I am still riding that sine wave.

1 comment:

wanderingpugilist said...

thanks for sharing your thoughts on how you feel before you get back. even though i wont be encountering those questions for a few months, its nice to know what to expect. stay up, im sure youll be just fine.