Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Minsk Diaries: Ramble On Sessions

My theme song is "Vagabond" by Wolfmother, but never before have the lyrics rung so true as they do now.

"I'll tell you everything 'bout living free."

Chris and I parted ways (he was keen on beaches and booze, I on a brotherhood with the back roads), which left me liberated to roam and make my own decisions. So, I hit the open road, a vagabond with a nickelbag of words and the badges earned as a certified space cadet. I spent all day in my head, a sedentary cockpit of constant repose polar to the nomadic nature of my actions, and as a result, I feel the two weeks traveling north to south (Hanoi to Saigon) in Vietnam has been one of the more profound chapters of existence I have led.

One of the first things that I noticed was the vast range of reactions to the novel presence of my skin color and peculiar bodily structure to those surrounding me: steep, in both number and assortment of countenances. The deft jump of that fellow's eyebrow, the somewhat suggestive wink from a female, a child's ogle of pure joy, the old woman digging so deep into her nose I had to wonder what she could possibly be looking for, the standard (yet somehow always varied) "HELLO!" from a little one, and the look of pure disdain and hatred from someone who is tired of foreigners strutting through their lands. I liken it to an Avatar-like alliance (sorry it's the only movie I've seen in a hot minute), pieces are exchanged, fibers of communication swapped through gaze. There's that moment of realization, the momentary focus, then the gradual (I'm talking milliseconds here) blur of vision as the two parties pass, entangled expressions meet in an intangible embrace, then are torn apart from one another by the inevitability of time. Some attachments end in a Romeo and Juliet like parting of longing, others might need a bouncer to step in between and pull us apart. Passing so many souls makes for a taxing experience, as there is constant interaction, however fleeting, forcing my emotional being to traverse terrains more mountainous than my physical, peaks and troughs, a constant peak or trough (I do have to note that most experiences were positive). It's all just part of this unprotected, unlubricated intercourse of travel. I leave that visual to your discretion.

To me, it's beautiful that such random kindness is shared on the basis of two being cut from the same cloth, no matter the pattern. The inebriation from that feeling is one that never faded throughout.

It seemed as though the universe won't let me have a bad day. Each time I felt down, a maintenance man in an ever changing uniform would appear to tinker with my wires, change that flat, or supply a fresh spark plug in order to lift my spirits to an elevation of glee. The enlightened monk, a bizarrely nefarious English teacher, or a believed to be reincarnation of Ho Chi Minh himself - all unforgettable, and all truly sporadic, analogous to the personality of my speedometer, which hip-hopped its way horizontally on its axis to its own beat. Symbolism need not be noted.

I almost forgot about my chariot! My baby, the Red Baron. Our relationship made splendid progress, subsidized by roads that dare not go unmentioned.

i clutched her midrift with my knees, felt the thrum, a vibration needed at times for warmth, and at other times just out of pure lust. my hands cocky, coercing the beast to my slightest willing. the road married to the reptilian river running parrallel, a just beauty without the intent to please, yet doing so with its humble squandering of potential flow in favor of peace. im leaning again, a jumble of vectors, momentum, and a wildwild horse spirit, pushing her to the finite rink of relaxation and taxation, but never crossing that fabled line. oh the glorious, a Princess Mononoke road I've wandered over, lazy Sundays all over again as my mind fishtails, unable to catch hold of a foothold. valleys and peaks, placid reflections eternal proposed by rice paddies, lands capped with meek mist, not real clouds as far as vietnamese standards go. now the grade has something personal against the baron, has her chain smoking cigarettes from the rear to cope with this trial. did i just see a pterodactyl? change of scenery today, chameleon style for sure. from jurassics, where brocolli toped tooth picks speckled the green blanket of mountains scaled, where my existence was haloed by tufts of clouds, giving way to clint eastwood badlands, and scary heat, the sun exercising a scorched earth police on every atom it could find. parched ground teased mercilessly by thick, bodacious clouds. That is Unfair. my thoughts can take that muddy sideroad inhabited only by the halfnake child running after its own imagination, it can scramble through the ever green vistats of flaura and fauna slow boat its way down the lazy rivers relflecting the pressing sky.

none of this would be if it weren't for her.

My phrasebook lies twitching from its recent torture, but this situation is the only one where I condone anything short of water boarding. Anything to pry loose the necessary information to communicate. Vietnamese is difficult to a minuscule point that is so far past frustrating its difficult to find. It shares the Roman alphabet with English, but the tongues used to lay down the brick and mortar for exchange are from separate universes, a seemingly metaphysical distance at times. Attempts to speak the foreign language always came out botched or mutilated, as English is monotone compared to the song-like, tonal structure of Vietnamese (similar to its northern brother China). This makes interaction very difficult, and although I became skilled at prancing from page to page in my communication bible, it felt like everyone spoke a different dialect. So lost. Not to mention most relationships began with an inquiry of direction...

Adventures... from the $1 haircut (for those versed in Larson's FarSide, I looked like a product of the Schultz Bros. "Buck n Cut" - I swear that was the first time the guy lifted those scissors), to spirited karaoke with locals...at 11 in the morning, to attempting to deliver a police report via phrasebook (long, long story). Big Fun. But by the end of each day, I was sufficiently nackered. There was almost no way to completely wring out my bursting experience sponge on the daily, there was too much seen, too many revelations savored (especially the deep ones, i.e. ShamWows are made in Germany! - who knew?), the entire ordeal turned out to be quite that, an ordeal. Both physically and mentally racking. But it fits the mold, as Vietnam is an extreme place. Desired bleach white skin vs. scary black of the coffee, mountainous (ice) north vs flat (fire) south, and as already mentioned, the people, most men needing two packs a day, just to get by. And I think that's exactly why I loved Vietnam. Life's not all rainbows and butterflies (which is what Laos felt like at times), but those two were so much more beautiful after my fair share of engine oil and filthy looks. On the road of life, at some point or other, your going to find yourself broken down on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, and you'll have to pop your own hood to see what's really going on...

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