(Note – if this post seems slipshod, rushed and otherwise written by a 10-year old Thai child keep in mind it was composed on the fly on a sleeper train after a Munich-Berlin flight and I couldn’t be arsed re-reading it. Sorry!)
All change; a flurry of plans, decisions, reconciliations, cancellations. This blog has lain dormant for a while, mostly because I haven’t had the slightest clue what was going on from one moment to the next. Every time I fixed my sights on a new goal, suddenly the goalposts shifted, the rules of the game changed and I was left winded on the sidelines, wondering what the next move was. If that makes the past few months sound unpleasant then that’s the wrong impression entirely, more it’s been a breathtaking journey getting things back on track, just it’s left me too bewildered at times to write.
Here’s the brief version. At least it might be brief, who knows…
Following my return to Scotland I was offered a teaching post in Da Nang, Vietnam, and thanks to my experiences there the previous year I accepted immediately despite pending applications in Taiwan and Vietnam. That much of my future secured, I set off for Toronto with my brother and his fiancee in tow, geared up for helping our dad commiserate his inpending 60th birthday. An eternal fixation with youth and outright refusal to recognise the inevitable march of time and our own mortality runs deep in the Adams males, my (now) old man being the prime example. A fortnight of whisky-fuelled debauchery and late-night sessions of setting the world to rights ensued, carrying on into the new year and bringing a new adventure for me.
I’d planned since before leaving Surat to take the opportunity to visit some of the friends I’d made over the year, seemed a shame not to seeing as I was just across the border. The makeshift itinerary kicked off with Kelsey in Madison, then a couple of nights to see Em in St Paul, a week in Iowa City with Michelle and a closing two-night stint in Chicago with Bryan. All tickets booked and tourist traps thoroughly researched, I hit the road – many misadventures along the way but that’s for another time.
Until disembarking the plane in Madison it seemed like aeons had passed since seeing Kelsey but the second we saw each other in the airport it was suddenly just like yesterday (The comedic effect of donning my kilt before getting on the plane worked exactly as planned). For the next four days I was treated to all the sights of admittedly small but thoroughly beautiful and charming Madison, my trusty guide directing me through state buildings, universities, museums and – naturally – plentiful eateries and watering holes. I was struck by one fantastic discovery which has assured that I will return to Wisconsin in the future, and this may seem surprising to some of my American amigos. You see, in the UK we have a very limited perception of American beer, one which consists almost solely of Bud, Coors and Miller, or fizzy piss as they are aptly known back home. These are pretty much the only brews served on our side of the Atlantic and the main ones to get product placement time on the big screen so it’s pretty natural to assume that’s all you guys drink.
Not so. Probably fuelled by a need to escape the bitterly col winters, Wisconsinites have turned the art of brewing (and incidentally that of deep-frying cheese) into a matter of national pride. The first bar alone boasted some 50-odd draught and 100 bottled beers from this magnificent state, and they only improved with each tasting. Nowhere but in Belgium have I encountered anything like it.
Next stop Minnesota, and I’m not going to ramble on about this stop although it would be insanely easy to do so. Lon story short – planned meeting with Em over two nights into a hostel changed into five nights (four of which at her parents’ house), rekindling our love for each other, being disgustingly sappy and romantic and changing all plans for thee future yet again. Happy Paul. Oh yes, happy Paul.
Unfortunately the extended stopover in the Twin Cities meant cuttting my Iowa stay short but Michelle laid on a couple of great days despite the temperature dropping yet further. My off-season timing meant some planned distractions were closed but meals with old friends, home-made brownies, cheap horror movies and a milk shake containing a whole slice of pie more than made up for it. Finally it was Bryan’s turn, treating me to a couple of days of food heaven in Chicago, taking in deep-dish pizza, Chicago dogs and some truly stunning sushi. Truth be told I could spend a long time in Chicago – I’m not a fan of big cities at all but there’s something about it, whether it’s the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, the seemingly endless museums or the boisterous good-time attitude of the natives. Another time perhaps…
And that was it. A brief return to Toronto and then back to the People’s Republic Of Scotia.
The main upshot of everything is that I’m no longer taking the job in Vietnam. Instead, Em and I are headed to Taiwan; I already have a job lined up to start next month and she joins me when she finishes her courses, hopefully in June or July. This makes me insanely happy. New job, new location, new friends, and all with Em by my side. I’m smiling a lot these days. Before then there’s a month’s rest time back in lazy, welcoming Surat, some reunions with old friends and a return to a normal level of diet and exercise as opposed to the sloth, gluttony and other vices which have characterised the past few months.
Bright future ahead.
To celebrate this I promise to get back to writing more often and also taking photos again. My reunion with Em has fired the creative impulses once more and with pen and SLR by my side I’m ready to roll…