Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The countdown begins...

His departure was getting closer now, and still the fear hadn't hit. He was excited, but there was a part of him that felt nothing at all. China was just another place, another scene for him to contemplate whilst introspecting and feeding himself a diet of trashy narratives from American TV. This was the part that had learnt not to be afraid, that had kept him in his safe zone through university, the part that was always fighting his urges to the risky. Nothing new in it, but the excitement, that was keener, sharper than he had experienced before. He found it difficult to sit still, needed music, writing, constant movement. Not nervous, not anxious, just ambition and adrenaline. Standing in line at the visa office these two sides came against each other for the first time.

The process had taken weeks, with bureaucracy interfering at every step of the way. Now, finally, after two and a half weeks and with four days until his flight, he was about to hear the answer. His restful side was reassuring him – what does it matter if you don't get it? Don't worry about it. It was this side that directed him to read the farcical play that he keeps glancing up from, checking whether his number has been called yet. His excitable side, what's does it think? He almost doesn't ask. A week ago it was this side that he had let take over, lying in bed trying to get some sleep, so he could put his application in. This side had been running questions too, but they were stopping him sleep, palms sweaty beneath thin blankets, boiling shivers of anxiety that made him uncomfortable however he lay. What if you don't get the visa? What will you do? What will your family say? They already think this is a foolhardy, badly planned scheme, what about your flights? Endless. Endless questions, fears. He had lain in bed, trying every tactic he knew to stop the tape running in his head. Music, radio, tv, nothing helped. He’d snatched two hours of waking sleep and set off to put his visa in.

With this in mind, he embraced his comfortable side this morning, thinking about London, Starbucks and McDonalds, panda cars and zebra crossings. He looks up at the desk in front of him. There is a commotion, a man shouting. His wife was denied a visa and he, close to tears, asks what they are going to do. The powerless desk clerk, she's just a saleswoman, she can't help him. There's a helplessness in them both that he recognises as his own, recognises but no longer feels. Tentatively aware of this he finally listens to his adrenaline. To his surprise, he doesn’t start to worry, he doesn't care about his visa anymore. Now he just wants to get away, to get into new situations, take new risks away from watchful eyes. If not China, then India, Venezuela, Africa, anywhere. This side has liberated itself, isn’t locking itself into an idea but is open to all suggestions, and he knows this is the stronger side. He waits calmly. His number is called. He approaches the desk with enthusiasm, a smile breaking despite the sleep between his eyes and the morning-sick feeling he gets when he doesn’t eat breakfast. Whatever happens he will be travelling this Sunday, he knows it. The woman at the desk, she smiles back at him. It takes him by surprise, he has watched her deal with the people in front of him, miserable and disinterested. He feels a further surge of energy as he banters with her, passing comment on the other jokers travelling halfway round the world. When her stamp says 'APPROVED' he's really buzzing, because he is going to China, there’s nothing stopping him now, he’s taking himself into unknown territory, and he just can't wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Josh
Max was reading the blog and is loving it, he told me himself! you have inspired max to write in the third person! GOOD LUCK IN CHINA! XXXXXXXXXXXX