Monday, February 28, 2005

Dallas, Texas. For no apparent reason, the theme song of Dallas started playing in my head when we flew by a cluster of highrises. The land looks fantastic from the air. A part of me wish I owned some land here. Then I'll go horse-riding in the morning, chop some wood in the afternoon and go home to make more babies with the wife when night falls. A large area of land needs a lot of farmhands, eh.

Anyway, here I am again in the Admiral's Lounge of the airport in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas. I think that's how the location is like. I'm not very sure if Dallas is in Fort Worth or Fort Worth is in Dallas or if Dallas or Texas is just nearby while I'm in Texas or Dallas. Maybe it's a little like Tokyo, Narita. I'm pretty sure Tokyo is not really near Narita, but the location's known as Tokyo, Narita. I could be wrong, of course.

Well, the jetlag's starting to set in. I woke up at 3.30am to wash up and do the final packing. With all the chocolates and stuff inside, I couldn't close the luggage bag. Now there is much anxiety regarding my luggage bag. I keep thinking it'll burst open and spill the contents of my bag all over the airport runway. What a horrifying thought. To calm myself, I'm listening to big band music now and pretty soon I'll go have myself a good cup of tea and a good shit. Stuff like that is good for the soul.

The bad thing about American Airlines lounges is the lack of food. All they serve is coffee, tea, hot water, cold water and an assortment of peanuts and pretzels. The MAS lounge serves food. Real proper food like fried rice, seafood chowder and spaghetti with the delicious white sauce. And free beer. Now the three of us are feeling peckish. The omelette they served us on the flight from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas was good, yes, but it would be nice to have something other than pretzels and peanuts to munch on while waiting for the next flight.

Speaking of the next flight... sigh. Approximately thirteen long hours. I think I bagged myself a window seat, but I'll probably spend most of my time watching the inflight movies, sleeping or playing my Nintendo DS ( yes, I got myself one during my trip ). Take-off and landing would be nice though. I remember the first time I touched down in America. It was this very airport, in fact, and from my first class ( a most fortunate upgrade ) window seat, I saw the grass and the flowers along the runway. Ah, flower of Texas. Wasn't a yellow rose though. That was quite the experience, the semi-excited "wow I'm finally in America after countless years of yearning and not so many years of bitching" feeling which was kinda suppressed by the jetlag and the drunk Japanese bastard next to me. But, I will probably never forget those flowers. That was the first time in a long time I looked flowers and went "hmm... pretty".

Now we're relaxing in the relaxation lounge. They hand out Bose headsets here, but because each one of these babies is about USD299, they hold on to your credit card while you use the headsets. I don't know how secure that is, so after using the headsets for fifteen minutes, I returned it to the front desk and used my own earplugs instead. Sure, it doesn't have noise reduction capabilities, but at least I won't have to worry about my corporate credit card disappearing. Actually, no one else seems to be using the headsets. That might be a tip of some kind.

These past few days, my other two colleagues have been saying that China and Japan hold much temptation for the single male Malaysian traveller. Apparently the girls over there throw themselves at us males. I'm not sure how true that is, but due to my upbringing, I think America is the country which holds the most temptations for me. Of course, American women never throw themselves at Asian men, so the place which should have the most temptations for me has in actual fact no temptation at all. Womenwise, that is. I do admit that's a little sad. But maybe I just haven't been tested. I mean, the US of A hasn't thrown much at me this trip. There were the South Carolina girls, but they're only fun because we're strange to them. "Do you eat cats? Don't touch the walls or you'll die!". Heh, crazy little girls. There's Natalie Mamysheva, with authentic Russian accent too, but she's not American, and we kinda unfairly gave her the extra chocolates we had so that we didn't have to cart so many chocolates home. There's Heather the TGIF waitress, which everyone agreed smelled good. And that's it. Like, come on! I'm sure the United States of America could have done much better volumewise. I'm in freaking Florida, for God's sake. Miami, yeah. The bleeding Sunshine State of America. And you know what were the two places which held the most temptations for me? Bloody Borders and Barnes & Noble. I swear to God that if it weren't for the girl in question, I'm turning asexual.

Oh well. It's been a trip with ups and downs. In America, I managed to feel alienated because I mixed with Malaysians. They were all speaking Mandarin, so I always ended up looking at the architecture of the places we were in. I'm getting to be quite an architecture connoisseur. I think there's some kind of irony there somewhere. Due to my colleagues' inability to auto-absorb American food and also because we three were stingy bastards, we ended up cooking most of the time. We also ate in a lot of Chinese restaurants, so this American trip really didn't have a very American feel to it. I don't know if that's a good thing. I really wanted to find out if I could miss Malaysia, but with the very family atmosphere we had every other night eating dinner together, I fear we brought a lot of Penang along with us to Florida. A lot. Heck, I don't sit down and eat with my family like how I eat with these guys. You know how you try not to let people get close to you because in the end they like to betray you and break your heart and basically tear your soul apart in a very non-physical way? Well, after two months with these two, I can't help but start to like them a bit. Camaderie born of eating a lot of meals together is very hard to push away. Of course, things will probably change once we return to Penang, cause we've all solemnly agreed to reset ourselves to how we were before the American trip. It's sad but as Neo so succintly puts it at the end of Matrix Revolutions, it's inevitable.

One of the nicer things about this trip is the friends I've made. I've met people working in the same building as I do in Penang whom I would never have met otherwise. But go to Key West with them, go to Universal Studios with them, have a few meals with them and you realize that maybe that faceless engineer in the hall isn't so faceless after all. Two months away from home and I actually made a couple of friends. So if I had rejected this trip, I wouldn't have known those people. I wouldn't have my Nintendo DS ( and that itself was really an odd incident ). I wouldn't have been to Key West, the Kennedy Space Center or Universal Studios, Florida. I wouldn't have finally gained the confidence to just leap into a strange car and start driving it like a madman. I wouldn't be pining every night. I wouldn't be so fat. I wouldn't be worried sick that my luggage would pop open. I wouldn't be filled with a lot of indecisions and doubts. There's usually a core change after one of these long trips. Hong Kong 2003 had one, although that swiftly died. America 2004 had one, which was slowly suppressed by months of painful work. But I realized that that aspect does resurface at the oddest of times. So I guess the change was incorporated. But this trip? I'm not sure if there's one. I know the other two have changed somewhat until they need a reset hehe. But I feel unchanged. I still feel like the same person who boarded the plane for Plantation, Florida so long ago.

Oh wait. Yeah. There're now the doubts, the lack of focus, the lack of motivation. I think I'm feeling kinda lost. There's this sneaky feeling at the back of my mind that maybe I'm just missing Florida. That finally, maybe, the idea that I could actually fit in here has crossed my mind. This won't be too different from how I felt about Springfield, Missouri. Oh well. I'll have to wait and see. After all, truth takes time.

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