Friday, July 16, 2010

On the road

(Stoneplate print by Jiri Bouda)

Saying goodbye to my dear parents, I flew to Beijing in the morning of July 9th, planning to pick up my passport/visa from the U.S. embassy and to take an afternoon flight back to New York. With a great surprise, I didn't get my visa on time, which happened for the first time in the past eight years. The reason they offered was simply that the handling process is delayed due to large applications in summer, though they said I should get it the next Monday or Tuesday.

Stranded! Yet I have no time to complain. What to do next? Is there still a seat available to NYC next Tuesday in such a busy traveling season? Should I stay in a hotel in Beijing for another four days, or fly back to my hometown? Who should I notify immediately for my delayed returning? How about those meetings scheduled the next Monday and Tuesday? Too many questions crowded my mind in seconds!

All problems are gone when I'm now typing these words in Mac. Not to mention those inconvenience and additional cost in money and time, I booked the last available seat for Tuesday's flight, I detoured my way home by visiting Yungang Buddhist grottoes which were built in the 5th centrury, I even watched the semi-final and the final of World Cup at home. ... My mother was extremely happy seeing my extended stay, even happier than the first day I went back. Unexpected pleasant surprise, isn't it?

Look, this is the magic of a journey. No matter how you plan it, there always exists unexpected meetup, unpredictable risk as well as disappointment and joy it brings. It could be a romance in 'Before Sunrise', an awkwardness in 'Midnight Run,' could even be a fatal death in 'Into the Wild.' Whatever it is, the journey remained in the memory may not be those planned beauty, but rather questions, worries, conflicts, and the courage and resolve to face all the uncertainty.

Turn round, and go home.

The meaning of a journey might never be traveling itself. All the effort to pulling through mountains and rivers could be enriched to a receding figure: going home from anywhere in the world.


-- 艾小柯

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