Hainan Flight 0495

Saturday, May 29, 2010
8:30 p.m. Beijing time
In-flight

Where does one begin the story? Do you start at the moment of arrival, fifteen hours and 9,000 km away from home, in the moment after you’ve checked-in to your room, unzipped your luggage and, with a slight suspicion that you are dreaming, stare at what will be your portable world for the next twenty-one days? Or do you instead start at the end, in the minutes where you let your gaze drift out from the back seat of a taxi as it bears you back to the airport, past the high-rise buildings and incongruous temples, past the street signs written in a language you still don’t know, and past the multitude of roses that have bloomed since you first arrived? As I sit over wing on Hainan Flight 0495, bound for Seattle, I wonder how I will stitch together the story of this journey. I marvel at the intensity of my experience, and I think, “I am finally awake.” I am awake, and the details shiver and shake in my knowing of them.

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