Nepal 26: Smoking Alone

[The featured image will make sense if you read the whole entry. Photo was taken in Feb 2014, two years before I was in Nepal. If you are new to this story, I suggest starting at chapter 1].

When I returned to my room, the gratitude turned to sadness.

The high had faded, and I was alone again.

I sat down at the smoking table, slumping in the chair. I laid the joint down, and looked across the tiny table. A second chair sat empty.  No one to smoke with.

I checked my email.

An Austrian company, Runtastic, was trying to recruit me.

We had been going back and forth ever since I lost my job in Bali, sending work samples and writing pieces, discussing the logistics of potentially moving to Austria, obtaining a red-white-red card, learning German. It was an exciting opportunity which had colored the tail end of my trip; an optimistic pallor hanging over a cold and dreary month in Taipei.

Despite the back-and-forth though, we still hadn’t scheduled an interview.

They’d floated a salary (quite high), discussed the social system in Austria (quite supportive), and briefed me on their company culture (multicultural to its core).

Today, there was an email asking if I wanted a full-time or part-time position. I fired back a quick note: full time.

As my disillusionment with Thamel and Kathmandu grew, the specter of this job gently held me here. Austria was, after all, on my way home.

Returning triumphant, a job in hand and a next great adventure queued up, certainly told a better story than stumbling home heartbroken and depressed, just unable to do it any more.

I would succeed in the interview, I knew — I’d only ever been denied one job in my life, after reaching the interview stage. And that interview had taken place one week after I had been released from the hospital with a ruptured spleen. I’d spent four days in the hospital; two of them in the ICU. I’d almost died. But even then, deep in the throes of a Fentanyl haze, it hadn’t mattered. I had Holly beside me.

I’d lost 30 pounds in the course of four days. Once I felt well enough to start walking, every step I took rattled through my internal organs like a gunshot. My skin was pale and sallow. I looked on the verge of death when I walked in the door and shook the interviewer’s hand. It was no surprise I hadn’t gotten that job. It would be a surprise to me if I didn’t get this one.

Of course, here in Nepal I was hurting just as bad. Anyone but I could have told you that.

And so, stupidly, I lingered in Kathmandu.

But again, there’s no accounting for the fixations of heartbreak.

I sparked the joint, took out my phone, and started texting Holly.

Even just ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. If one wanted to run away, hopping a plane to a foreign country was a foolproof plan. You would be out of hand. But with Facebook, Google, and local telecoms bringing high-speed wi-fi and 3G cellular data to even the most remote and rural areas of the world, nowadays, your troubles are never more than a few taps away.

For me though, Facebook will never replace face time, and maintaining a relationship digitally quickly exhausts me.

As I fell asleep, my tiny twin bed felt too big, and too cold.

***

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