As you may or may not know I have commenced the final chapter of my Pacific Tour. I am currently in the Land of the Rising Sun. The Great Empire. The Empire of the Sun. Yamato. The Pearl of the Pacific. Nippon. ….
You: Yeah, yeah we get it. You’re in Japan.
That also means: in less than two weeks I will be back on Belgian soil. And God do I look forward to that!
You: “Haha, of course you don’t. The fun is over. Or did you actually think you could run away from society and travel forever?”
Me: “Of course not. I’m not that clueless… And I wasn’t running away, idiot. Not from society, not from having a job, not from having to work until I die. No, I was running towards something. Towards a life that would enable me to think outside of the box. Towards a perspective to show me an exciting new way to live this life to the fullest. A hidden path. Not visible for ignorant mortals who believe there’s only one way to live your life and that is by copying everybody else.”
You: “Soooo did you find your so-called hidden path, Alice?”
Me: “Not yet. But I’m getting there! (you cynical moron…) That is why I need to get back on my traveling feet as soon as possible.”
I do know -more than ever before- I don’t want to settle with an ordinary life. Over an indefinite period of time I want to leave Belgium, work and live around the world and eventually settle in the place I feel best. Maybe that’ll be Belgium after all. But for now I’m way too curious about the places out there to settle in my country of birth for good. It’s not because you were born somewhere, you have to stay there till eternity. The world is too big of an oyster for that.
Me: “Wow Evvy, you seem certain of yourself.”
Well… I’m not. I’m bluffing in the hope my subconscious will believe it cause in reality I’m freaking out.
Of course it feels suffocating knowing I’m returning to Belgium soon and that nothing is there waiting for me. Nothing but decisions, problems, taxes, … and yes also my loving parents who will gladly put good food in my belly because they think I had to live off rice and instant noodles this entire time. (Mom, I have thought about what you asked and I would love to have your nice salmon dish with broccoli the day of my return. Domo arigato.)
I don’t feel comfortable with the thought of Belgium dooming up at the end of my horizon yet. It’s hard enough I ask myself the obvious question every day. But all of a sudden everybody I know will ask me the obvious question every day: “So now what?”
Well, I don’t know that. I don’t hold the answers to everything. I just try to take life how it comes and try to keep living the way I have lived these past 6 months: in the moment. So don’t fuck up my zen-ness!
… So I’m not gonna lie to you, from the moment I arrived in Japan I was feeling a weeeeee bit stressed. I wasn’t ready to enter the final chapter yet. I wanted a transition chapter first. Like a spin off. In Bali. Or ‘Nam. Maybe that’s why I almost missed my plane…
You: You almost missed your plane??
Yes. But not on purpose. I was three hours early even! I was just sitting at the wrong gate… I was watching the passengers board the plane, while I was prank calling friends and family, leaving messages on their voice mail since it was still night in Belgium. When I saw the last person board, I figured it was time to lift my ass, grab my passport and swag-walk my way to the boarding gate. After all I was wearing sweatpants and sneakers.
Person at boarding gate: “Hello miss, can I see your boarding pass please”
Me: “Quite certainly sir, here you go.”
Person at boarding gate: “Err, this is not your gate.”
Me: “What do you mean? Destination Tokyo, Narita, 14.45 pm. It says so on the board. (dummie)”
Person at boarding gate: “Yes but this is “Something-something” Airways. You have to go with Ethiopian Airways. And that one leaves in four minutes.”
It was as if all air was sucked out of the room and temperature rose with 150 degrees.
Me: “Fuck a Hong Kong duck! Where do I go?!?” (hyperventilating mode engaging)
Person at boarding gate: “I believe it’s gate 47. On the other side of the airport. But…. “
I didn’t even wait for him to finish his sentence. I road runner-ed my way out of there.
The other side of the airport?? I didn’t even know which side! I don’t even know the shape of this airport!! Is it a triangle? A trapezium? A PARALLELEPIPED?!
I started running and bumping people over with my hand luggage.
Me: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”
I almost crashed right into the information desk and held my boarding pass under the lady’s nose.
“MY PLANE IS ABOUT TO TAKE OFF WITHOUT ME. WHERE IS IT???”
Lady behind information desk: “It is gate 47. You need to take the elevator downstairs, then get on the train and then run to your gate. You might still make it!”
I ran down the moving escalator bumping more people over with my hand luggage.
“I’m sorry, I’m SO SORRY!”
Luckily they understood, and even cheered me on by saying: “It’s okay, hurry hurry!”
If someone would bump me over on the moving escalator I would roll my eyes. Asking myself: “How can anybody be in a hurry in an airport? If you’re here on time, what can go wrong?”
WELL YOU COULD HAVE BEEN SITTING AT THE WRONG GATE, PRANK CALLING EVERY PERSON IN YOUR PHONE BOOK NOT KNOWING WHAT IS GOING ON!
I always hate it when my plane leaves late because of someone not being on time, and now I am that person. If I’m lucky, that is… They might have already taken off!
When I got at the bottom of the stairs I boarded a subway like train that would take two minutes to get me close to my gate. I didn’t even have two minutes! I got on and the entire way, I was tiptoeing impatiently, whispering ‘shit, shit, shit, shit’. Repeating it as a mantra. Two stops later, the door opened and I was again road running. Up the stairs, already realizing it was a waste of energy. The plane had left. I was certain of that.
“Are you passenger ET672???” A lady on the top of the stairs nervously asked me.
Me: “YES! Or at least, I think I am!! I was sitting at the wrong gate!”
Lady: “They’re still waiting for you. Hurry! As fast as you can!”
Fuck road runner. It was time to go full retard Forrest Gump mode. I had already ran my lungs out but this final 500 meters I had to run the braces off my legs. I wish I could have undone myself of all excessive baggage. My right shoulder was carrying my 7K purse with my heavy laptop in there. And my left hand was carrying my 10 K hand luggage. After 200 meters I couldn’t feel my limbs but I knew I couldn’t stop running. I was gonna make it! I cannot believe they waited for me! Any European airline and they would have left already.
When I arrived at the desk, they immediately let me pass, I ran through the jetty, right into the airplane, chanting “Sorry, I’m so sorry!” to every passenger I had to pass to get to my spot.
I had window seat 24 L but I kindly said to mister K to keep seated while I continued dying on hallway seat 24 J. The plane apparently was only half full.
Neighbor: “It’s okay, I don’t think anyone noticed you were late. Well, … that was before you started apologizing to the entire plane. Hi, my name is Peter.”
Me: “Oh, (breathing) Hello Peter. (breathing) I’m so sorry.”
Peter: “You were miles in front of me at check in. What happened?”
Me: “I was sitting at the wrong gate!”
Peter: “Oh waw, good thing you made it.”
I don’t know if it were the endorphins of me actually making the flight but I continued talking to Peter the entire duration of the flight. About four hours. If I would have swag-walked my way in the plane, I would have just sat down, put in my headphones and watched a movie or two. Now I actually enjoyed a good conversation with a complete stranger. About life and the interesting surprises it brings. He even shared a story about his parents divorcing when he was a kid because of his mother getting busy with the au pair. And yes, it was a girl au pair. Years later they got married on some tropical island and are still happy together. His father ended up in several marriages afterwards that all ended in divorce…
Peter is originally from America but works from China for an American company. He lives in Shanghai, was traveling from Hong Kong to Japan, before heading back to America for a couple of weeks eventually returning back to Shanghai. You see? That’s what I was referring to earlier. About working in a different country. Enabling yourself to make money, still fulfill your duties to society but collecting air miles while doing so. Cause that’s what many of you may think, that I’m traveling because I’m too lazy to work. Quite the contrary. I DO want to work. I enjoy the simple fact of earning money, preferably while doing something I’m good at. Like writing. But I don’t want to make money and forget living. I’m looking for the perfect balance. A lifestyle that enables me to work, live healthy and nourish my travel needs. And yes, at one point I will maybe feel the need to settle somewhere and hatch out some eggs. And I gladly will. Some day.
Peter: “Well Evelien, I am glad you made it to this flight. And that I got to meet you.”
Me: “Well thank you Peter, I am too. I will add you on Facebook. What’s your last name?”
Me: “Parker? Your name is Peter Parker?”
Fuck a…errr….salmon skin roll(?) !
“I’ve been sitting besides Peter Parker this entire time? I loved you in Captain America 3!”
Peter: “Haha, it’s only the fourth time today somebody made a comment about my name. But yes. I am Peter Parker. My mom never realized what she did until I was three years old.”
For you non geeks out there: Peter Parker is the actual name of Spider-Man. Embodied by Tobey Maguire from 2002-2007, Andrew Garfield from 2012-2014 and more recently Tom Holland.
I was already convinced that everyone should be his own super hero but Peter just raised the bar there.
Once I got off the plane, I was feeling really good about my encounter with Peter. And about almost missing the plane. It made me less stressful about my future, since everything always turns out okay in the end, and made me so much more grateful of putting my two feet on Japanese soil. Clean soil! You can eat off the floors here. What a difference with China where people just discharge all their body fluids on the street. Also the toilets are super clean. When you enter, the toilet seat lifts itself, it even welcomes you with a little song. And even showers your bum if you like it to. You can even add a flushing sound to the already existing flushing sound! Craay-zaay.
After a long train ride I arrived in my hostel in the Sumida district in Tokyo. A very relax neighborhood and a very relax hostel. My bed is basically a space capsule
… but it’s all the space I need and it’s super cosy. The bathroom is right outside with free shower foam and shampoo, more talking toilets and some nice slippers for all the guests. The building is quite new. And a little shaky…. Last night I was putting laundry up on the ceiling of my box while all of a sudden the room and lockers started to shake. At first I thought it was the big Egyptian guy I was sharing the room with who was climbing the ladder to reach to the upper bed, until I suddenly saw him standing in front of my box, asking me: Is this an earthquake?
Me: “Errr….. I THINK IT IS!”
Egyptian guy: “It is. We should go downstairs!”
I grabbed my phone (weird I didn’t take my money) and left the room. When we arrived in the hall, the building had stopped shaking. While we were still very much in awe, a girl from another room had already discovered through Twitter that there had been an earthquake in Miyazaki and that we had just experienced some kind of after shock. 40 minutes later.
Gee, five minutes before it happened I was back to worrying a little about ‘What will happen when I get back to Belgium?’
I guess it was just a kind reminder of the universe to live in the moment. Reminding me that life is happening now. And sucking me back in.
“Never panic, accept what’s happening, then react” is the earthquake advice my other room mate suddenly dispensed. Little did he now, he just supplied me with the quote of a lifetime.
And I will.
I will make the most of this final chapter. Since it is only the very beginning.
For me. For you. For anyone who finds it inspiring.
And BTW: Thank you universe for giving me the first vibration in 6 months. You are really looking out for me.