When I decide to travel, I buy the ticket, then I put my head down and don’t think about it until I’m about to leave. At that point my anxiety levels will depend on how long I’ll be there and how long I’ve been avoiding thinking about it.
Well, it finally hit me a few days ago at the bar. A customer asked how long until I leave and, after doing the math in my head I said, “Ten days. . . . . . . . Oh my fucking god I leave in ten days”.
My visa is finished and someone is subletting my room so the hard work is done. Now I just say some goodbyes and go with the flow. This is the plan:
- Five months, ten days.
- Flying into Qingdao, Shandong Province on the east coast.
- First five days booked in a hostel.
After that, just figure it out. This trip is unique for a few reasons. Firstly, although I generally keep a loose schedule, it’s completely open. I could end up going anywhere, anytime. Or I could just stay in Qingdao and study the language and chill. Previous trips have been Point A to Point B in three to four weeks. Always on the go and always with a goal in mind. There was some room to explore, sure, but on a schedule.
It’s LONG. Five and half months is an awkward amount of time to just hang out with no job. All trips more than 30 days have been in college studying abroad. When I first got the idea to do this I was certain that I would enroll in a University like last time, pay a low tuition, cheap room and board, and go to class. But then, it hit me. School? School Jim? You don’t like school, you hate school. You still have weekly nightmares about all the homework you never did. My journal entries from when I was actually studying in China are only full of classroom entries about how in love with my teacher I was. That’s it. Nothing else. I can’t even find notes.
So why waste my time and money when I know I can’t learn that way? In Chile I was fortunate enough to live with a family where the parents were conservative and the boys were self identified-communists. So each night at dinner had a juicy, three-hour, alcohol-infused argument in Spanish to sift through.
And lastly, I’ll be totally alone. I don’t know a single soul in Qingdao. Previously in China I had Ren. And for those who never met him let me just say that having a long-haired, barrel-chested man from the back woods of Pennsylvania who looks like a mixture of Gaston and an Italian Hercules, is a great travel partner to have.
But now I start from scratch.
So, in vain, I try to examine why I’m going. Well, I have no idea. It’s just a gut feeling that I have to go, and I have to go now.
I find that when I’m around certain groups of friends, I act a certain way. Not like a completely different person, but little things here and there. Mannerisms with my water polo friends from Bloomsburg differ from when I’m at a drag show with gay friends in the Lower East Side (except you Mcguinnes. You’re the bridge!). Well this gets to be a lot in New York, especially when you spend 40 hours a week behind a bar talking about the pH levels of the Cab Rosé as if you actually knew what you were talking about. Pair that with the soul-crushing industry of rejection that is acting, not to mention actually pretending to be someone else for another 40 hours a week, and you start to forget who you are a little bit.
Well for me, traveling cures it all. And I don’t mean it just chills me out a little bit, I mean to say it cures it all. When I’m 10,000 miles away from anyone I can call a friend and I have to express my needs and emotions in a foreign language, that washes away all the bullshit. I think, “Oh! this is really me. These are the types of things I laugh at, this is my sense of humor, this is how I react to these extreme circumstances. ” No influences but my own. And this isn’t to say that I don’t like my life. On the contrary, I love my life in New York. I love acting like I love traveling. But I can’t travel if I have no performance outlet once in a while, and I can’t perform unless I really know who is performing.
And, of course, I miss speaking Mandarin.
So I’m off in nine days. . . .