Nothing quite describes the feeling of a good thing ending. For me, at least. The words just never materialize. Our last precious moments in Kathmandu have been spent trudging around Thamel, soaking in every stimulus Nepal’s streets have to offer, most of which is mud and tiger balm salesmen. I resolved to get a sleeve of henna done, and I asked around as to where I could make this happen. An eager, helpful man led me to a tattoo parlour even though the last thing I would do is draw salty tears from my mother’s beautiful eyes by getting inked in the third world, or any world for that matter. We also met up with our friends from Colorado and Australia, at which point we hiked around the neighborhood and ate at all our favorite street food points of interest – samosas WITH sauce, honey funnel cakes, lassi, momos and chai at our restaurant, fresh fruit juice, and finally panipurri on the corner of Watering Hole and Stray Dog – Thamel has no addresses. Then we all split up for a bit, and Blake and I paid one last visit to the best hole-in-the-wall in Nepal, one we’ve been frequenting every day to no avail. The brothers who own it always expect us to come; they make us special Nepali food and we give them business. It’s a healthy relationship. So we sat there. I stared at the wall with chipped paint and suspicious stains. Two cups of steaming chai were placed in front of our downtrodden faces and we talked about the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, the stories that we’ve chased and the ones that have fallen into our laps. We talked about how fucking cool we are for having a summer dream and realizing it a few months later. We talked about time and how easily it slips from your fingertips when you’re not looking. It’s a strange thing, travel. You become like particles seemingly forever in motion and then one day you come to an abrupt hault and a different reality hits. You think it’s over, but it’s only the beginning. An ongoing backpacking trip called life. And with that, we took our last sip of chai and left.
So what is next for us? We all go our separate ways. This saddens me, because while I may not like these kids all the time, they’re like brothers to me. Annoying brothers, but family nonetheless.
Blake is moving on to Europe for two weeks out of a desire to attend a French DIY waxing course and to learn how to make decent sauerkraut, from what I understand. I would have solemnly pointed out that he will always be inherently, impossibly hairy and no one can ever make sauerkraut taste good, but I’m not one to crush dreams. From there he’ll be in Madrid – BLAKE GO TO THE FUCKING PRADO – where he’ll partake in World Youth Day, an event whose purpose and MO still escapes me even after dozens of explanations – and visit the wonderful Prado Museum on the side, Squeaky Robot’s favorite. As you can see, it’s an exciting time for him! I can’t wait to become hopelessly envious over all the stunning photography he produces; I also can’t wait to laugh maniacally when the cheapest guy in the world starves to death in Western Europe solely due to his absurdly erroneous habit of comparing all of the world’s prices to those in Southeast Asia and subsequently rejecting them. Don’t worry, Blakey, leaves are free and high in fiber.
Misha, on the other hand, is heading back to the States to his home in Buffalo. There, he will pamper himself – he’ll adopt the sleeping habits of the average household cat, watch Scrubs because it is indeed good for the soul, and eat classic American cuisine like a triple-fried cheeseburger with XL chili cheese fries and frisbee-sized quadruple-fried onion rings on the side. No jalapeno mayo? Send it back! All this while “exfoliating”, whatever that means. The truth is, with the stresses this kid has, everyone would do the same thing. So I applaud him for publicly announcing that he fully intends on getting his eyebrows tweezed and giving his pores extra, extra attention. While he’s at it, that uneven farmer’s tan could use some persistent hours in the sun. But his goal is an honest one – to enjoy his few fleeting moments away from work, school, and exhausting backpacking trips in which basic plumbing is cause for overt joy. And for this, no one can blame him. Misha, I wish you many hours of Scrubs, sauna therapy sessions, and saturated fats! Sincerely, reliably, your very own Dr. Cox.
As for me. Blake and I have moving around in common, although the only borders I’ll be crossing are mearly lame state borders. I even have a little pampering in tune with Mishker’s plans, as I intend on getting my hair did. Other than that, I plan on doing some cliched soul searching in the form of Hudson River jogs, where I’ll push shopping carts of homeless people, small toddlers, and annoying rollerbladers into the river if they impose on my immediate route. From there I will spend time with my rad family, all of whom I’ve missed dearly, and answer relatives’ genuine inquiries with vague but acceptable formalities like: “It was amazing…tiring…I would do it all again, blah, blah, blah.” (how do I really sum it all up in a sentence??), and go fishing with my little brother, but only if he promises to hook the worms for me because they’re too squishy. Oh, shit. I also have to face my poor grandparents, who think I’ve been in Russia with my boyfriend this whole time; it was easier telling them that than explaining to this intensely Polish Catholic duo that I have guy friends who I don’t plan on marrying and that I have dreams of traveling the whole wide world; what doesn’t help is that my grandma has a history of showering me with rosaries when finding out that I’m leaving the country; you can add crying to the lot if she discovers where I’m traveling to. So that’ll be fun, and I can fully expect my mom to listen on, snickering, NOT saving me from awkward despair like her job description designates. And I can only suspect I will inevitably drag my older sister shopping because as luck would have it, I’m all out of acceptable clothes, save my white pleather jumpsuit which is only good for the Fourth of July. I had two types of apparel: the ones that went with me on the trip, i.e. the ones that would advertise me as a lesbian and, regardless, are too treacherously disgusting to parade around in a well-to-do city like DC where I live and study, and the ones that stayed at home, i.e. all of the ones I’m selling on eBay after having a ridiculous yet permanent fit of anti-materialism. “Quality over quantity!”, I will march around the house shouting unecessarily, violently collecting unidentifiable rags out of closets and drawers. Do I own them all? I can’t be sure. All I know is, the profit from my clothes and the clothes of others will pay for my next plane ticket and possibly my next pleather jumpsuit.
Blake is gone, Misha is next. Only I’ll be left, with 35 hours of travel between here and home; now I have to decide if I want to pack my shit or chase supply trucks with Nepali street kids. Definitely the latter.