I'm not even going to bother telling you a story about myself. Trust me, these days it wouldn't be all that interesting. I could describe to you my guesthouse apartment with its oversized, spartan furniture. Or, I could tell you how every morning I wake up at 6:00, start working at 8:00, stop working at 5:00, and then go to sleep at 10:00. I could describe the furnishings and food at my favorite restaurants, which I patronize exclusively and repeatedly throughout the week. I could describe a life that's comfortable and thoroughly mired in routine. I could describe a life I enjoy, but that doesn't make for good stories.
Or maybe I could take a different approach. Maybe I could tell you how every now and then I walk by a cafe that's playing Nico Case or The Decemberists, and I'll get misty eyed and nostalgic. I'll wander in and order a hot chocolate, warming my hands on the glass as the album plays through memory after memory. Or maybe I could tell you how I'll spend hours downloading a 10-minute YouTube clip of The Last Unicorn, because for some reason I woke up thinking about it, longing for it.
But this doesn't give the full story, either. I could also talk how sometimes I get restless in my routine, and I'll pack my bag with water and rations, and I'll hike off in a random direction. The bustle of McLeod is quickly behind me, and I'll be scrambling over boulders or pulling myself up the side of a cliff. Exhausted, I'll lie down on a large rock or amongst prickly grass, and it'll be so quiet that I can actually hear the bees. While on these trips, I rarely encounter other people, but when I do, they're shocked to see me with my white skin and Western style. They wave at me and their kids rush over and ask if I know how to play cricket. I'll sit with them and eat sour crab apples, dividing my sole cupcake into quarters and passing it around.
Or maybe I could talk about how sometimes I go to one of my favorite restaurants, but it will be packed full. I'll have no choice but to sit with a stranger, probably also a Westerner, probably also over-eager to talk to someone after hours of silence in the Hindi crowd. We'll finish our momos and thungpa, we'll drain glass after glass of lemon ginger tea, and hours will pass as we we converse. Surprisingly, we never talk about our travels, but instead talk about our homes. I'll tell them about Texas, and as they tell me about Canada or France or Brazil or Israel, I see their eyes grow foggy. They're no longer in a cramped Tibetan restaurant. They're back home, and they're narrating everything they see to me.
And then there are the Facebook binges. An entire day gazing half-consciously at photos of far-away friends. Their lives continue. Their hair grows, then gets cut in dramatic new styles. They get new jobs; they lose old ones. Relationships form and fall apart. Their world moves forward, and I sit in my Indian cybercafe and watch from a distance, my own life spinning in static motion.
Or maybe I could talk about the future, which has come into crisper focus now that I've been removed from the present. I've seen the vast desolation of West Texas. I've seen myself hovering over Jung and Freud. From far ahead, I hear a calling. The siren sings to tempt the sailors, but perhaps this is best. There are places that the ship will not take them. Sometimes, they need to swim on their own.
I could also write about my hair, which I haven't cut in months, and which now is so stiff and round that it looks like a black cottonball. Or I could mention that my soap ran out several weeks ago, and I'm too wary of the local brands to get more. I don't think that I smell, but I can't say for sure. Similarly, I haven't washed my clothes in months. I only shave every few days. For whom would I bother to groom myself? No pictures are being taken. I am the eye behind the lens, and you will not see what I've become.
So you see, there are no good stories here, only fragments and impressions.