Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I step onto the platform reluctantly this morning, heavy arms dragging a heavy suitcase, heavy feet dragging a heavy sleepless head, dragging a heavy heart into the sludge of the morning. A mixture of smoke, sweat, grime, dust.

Industrialization rolls off the gritty wheels of a rickety train car and onto dangerously uneven tracks. It hides in the folds of the women's cheap dresses, rhinestone-studded scratchy faux-chiffon material of clashing bright colors, grating on unwashed bodies. They believe themselves to be beautiful. Ribbons fray on tacky, plastic shoes. They parade around in them, tossing greasy, scraggly hair, speaking in dialects, voices coarse and loud. They know nothing of subtlety, humility. They know nothing of the grace that their ancestors once held.

Rolling mountains turn into concrete blocks, rice paddies into smokestacks. I could be watching a thousand different movies through the window, pieced together into one bizarre surrealist film. And somewhere in the space between the stars and the tops of skyscrapers, civilization is lost.
Eighteen grueling hours on a dirty train remind me of these things, the vastness of a land I call my own, the diversity of the people, the struggles of the people, their blissful unawareness of their deplorable conditions,
how misplaced I am in the midst of it all.

It is with a certain sense of helplessness that I step back onto territory that is so familiar and yet so painfully foreign. I have, once again, left the sun and the sky and the ones I love 18 hours behind me. And as I stuff myself into crowds of strange people and into a strange car, I feel as I imagine these filthy skyscrapers would,
suffocated in the smog of a city that does not yet have enough space for me.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I am not you.

The world doesn't brush against my shoulders, hitting me and rolling off like rain on the sleek fabric of a new raincoat. It does not pass me by, as big open fields would from the window of a train, a quick glimpse, a brief sigh. I do not glide through it, scales on my back, a breeze through the window, the way bees jump from flower to flower, selecting only the ones on which they wish to land.

Rather, I absorb and absorb like a sponge that tries to absorb the ocean. I soak in through the pores on my skin every detail of the sky, every angle of the sun, every conversation that I overhear, the way every smile flits across every face, and they become a part of me, a child that I nurture, a branch that I grow. I tie every word I read to a string in my chest, and I drag it with me wherever I go. And because of it, I am tired. Because of it, I am never alone.
Because of it, I am always alone.

And it is a wonderful blessing and it is
a terrible burden.