I am sitting alone in a couch. Poolside. Hotel rooftop. I wish I didn’t want to do some contemplating, but the loneliness, ambient resort lighting, the mellow sound of the water, and the night sky makes it almost mandatory. Besides, I haven’t written in a while.
Truth is, I’m having a genuine case of fernweh. Far-sickness.
A pair of Merrels that I excitedly received as a gift last year, which I thought would be abused in another globe-trekking journey with the missus, is now ripped and worn out. But not from climbing temples or braving dark alleys of a red light district. Instead, it was overused in the gravel of a food market that we work at every weekend.
The cheap Hershel rip-off backpack we bought in Melaka, which should contain travel essentials, now holds a coin box, contracts, and a checkbook. Sure, it has souvenir keychains and a bagtag that screams adventure. And yes, I never take out my almost empty travel journal and “A Cooks Tour” by Anthony Bourdain in the hopes that I would finally, someday, fill up the journal in another border bus ride and finish reading the book while lying down a beach cot, sunburnt in the shores of Nha Trang.
But the reality is that the bag is now a work bag. And that travel journal now contains market lists and expense reports. And that book will forever have page 16 folded, and I will never have an accidental meetup with Tony B. somewhere in Hoi An to have him autograph it.
The reality is I am sitting on a hotel poolside couch, but not as a guest. I’m here for work, and I’m taking a quick break.
And that’s exactly why I’m feeling fernweh. Because I should be sitting in this couch, but I am wishing that the couch was in another poolside, in a faraway hotel, with similar ambient lighting and a slightly different night sky.
I miss riding the cab to the airport (instead of driving). Then getting caught in traffic and almost missing a flight.
I miss being frustrated at our ridiculous international travel tax and terminal fee.
I miss giving my most charming smile to the ground attendants to get a good economy seat for the long flight.
I miss having expensive airport food for brunch.
I miss the claustrophobia inside A320’s.
I miss arriving and looking out the plane window, and seeing weird signs and right handed cars.
I miss the snobbish immigration officers.
I miss the money changers.
I miss riding the first cab in a new place and not taking my eyes off the window because everything, everything we see is new and foreign.
I miss checking in and comparing our English to that of the hotel receptionist’s.
I miss exploring markets and streetfood.
I miss taking touristy photos and selfies.
I miss talking to locals and fellow tourists for the first and last time.
I miss having an itinerary.
I miss not having an itinerary.
I miss finding new places.
I miss being lost.