So, how did I end up in that hotel room in Hong Kong?
[This is a chapter from my travel book. There are lots more chapters posted on the blog, but if you’d prefer to read them all at once, sign up for my e-mail newsletter and I’ll be sure to let you know when they’re available in a condensed form!]
That’s a long story in and of itself, and you’re probably here to learn about Nepal anyways, not my relationship drama. Don’t worry, we’ll get there soon enough. But the two topics are inextricably linked. I can’t talk about Nepal without talking about Holly, and I can’t talk about Holly without talking about our past.
The short version is: after five months of travel through six countries, both my girlfriend and I were burnt out on travel. We were also pretty tired of each other’s company, after five contentious months on the road. Things can reach that point – no matter how much you love someone – when you literally spend every waking second together. In Taipei, Taiwan, the decision was made: she was going home. She bought a ticket then and there, but I hesitated.
Why had I hesitated?
Well, I had plenty of time I could have used to ponder that complicated question as I waited, destroyed and alone, in the lobby of the Hong Kong International Airport. I didn’t though. I knew this much: I was going on to Nepal. In Nepal, trekking in the high mountains, I would have time to think. There, I thought, I would be removed. Enlightenment would find me there, not here, in the Hong Kong International Airport.
So I didn’t think about what just happened.
I didn’t analyze how and why I ended up in that hotel room, and I didn’t ask how it was that a SIM could run out of data at precisely the moment I needed it most. I chalked it up to Fate with a capital F, and I let it sit. I didn’t obsess.
Instead, I sat there and tried my hardest to think about nothing. You know that utterly aimless, slack-jawed stare you see on mental patients in old Hollywood movies? That was my spirit animal. I sprawled across three of those uncomfortable airport chairs, and put my mind into shock. I reached a meditative state I probably won’t ever accomplish again in my life — just pure refusal, rejection and disbelief. My mind shut off, and I didn’t consider much of anything.
That said, I probably just looked heartbroken.
The Chinese love American pop culture, and a relationship ending in dramatic fashion in the lobby of an airport is about as cliche as it comes, in Hollywood movies. A place of transition, the high-stakes of a departing plane: the airport tees up the heights of human drama. But as fun as it may be to watch, you don’t want to fall from those heights yourself.
It really sucks.