Legoman, now back in LA after 9 months on the road, finally ditches his traveling outfit (man, you shoulda seen those pit stains) and slips back into his comfy jeans and hoodie. He starts to miss some of the friendships forged along way. But then he realizes those experiences are all still with him. And they always will be. It’s time to move on, to find the next adventure, cause Legoman is determined to collect them all.
(Check out the backstory on this series here: http://shortstorylongtrip.tumblr.com/post/5831793806/toy-story )
Los Angeles, California
We’re on a bus in Turkey. It’s 5am. And we’re ripped from sleep by none other than Celine Dion. The bus driver has put her Titanic hit on repeat and cranked the volume to 11 which, as you can imagine, kind of felt like an iceberg repeatedly ramming your face. At first we thought the driver had gone nutso, but as we me made our way around the world, we realized he wasn’t the only one.
We heard it blasting from a knock-off purse stall in a Bangkok night market. We heard it on Bali beaches, in Cambodian bars, Indian airports, and Saigon taxis. Then on a misty mountainside in the Himalayas, just when we thought we’d escaped it, our guide’s cell phone rings. Yup, it’s also a ringtone. The world’s obsession with the Titanic tune is unmatched. Near, far, wherever we were, it found us.
We were expecting to hear a lot more local music, whatever that means. Maybe some pan pipes, exotic single-stringed instruments, or warbling tribal vocals. But, as we found out, most people listen to American music (albeit a few years behind).
It wasn’t unusual to hear someone who speaks not a shred of English bust out with something like “Drop it like it’s hot!” and have no idea what it means. And we definitely weren’t expecting the black Escalade with ground-shaking bass, tinted glass rolled down to reveal Bedouins in white robes car-dancing to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. Or the Korean man who desperately wanted to know if Boyz 2 Men was still together, but had to ask us using hand signals and his cell phone playlist.
As the lunar New Year approached in Vietnam, a song called “Happy New Year” was playing EVERYWHERE. We wondered why Vietnamese people would write an English song for an Asian holiday, but then we saw the music video and realized it was ABBA. A very young ABBA. Is it possible they don’t even realize they’re Vietnamese pop-superstars??
As surprising and, thanks to Celine, creepy as it was, hearing familiar music made us feel closer to the people we were meeting. It gave us instant commonality. And as much as the world disagrees about, um, everything, it’s really nice to know that we can all agree Snoop Dogg is the shiz.
Ever heard of reverse culture shock?
#whitewhine #firstworldproblems #shitbackpackerssay
The other day, we got in our Mini Cooper, drove ourselves to our DMV appointment, and were home in about an hour. The GPS made sure we avoided traffic, our pre-booked appointment made sure we didn’t wait. It was easy. Crazy easy. And this is the DMV we’re talking about!
We weren’t sure what to do with ourselves when we got home. On our big trip, stuff like this would take us DAYS. Figure out the bus schedule, go to the wrong place three times, wait for the bridge to be fixed, wait for the office to open, bribe a few officials, accidentally get dropped off in a red light district, return to find out we’re missing some official stamp and have to start all over.
It’s like somebody pushed the “Easy” button on our life. Suddenly, tap water is drinkable. Nothing is broken. Nobody waits. In America, ATMs don’t run out of money. Public toilets are free. Prices are fixed. The streets may not be paved with gold but hey, they’re paved!! The first day at home we’re giddy with delight, like poor refugee kids that arrive in the US and run around flipping light switches for the pure joy of it. Five minutes later, we’re bored out of our minds.
But the Easy button doesn’t work on everything. That urge to lock up our stuff and booby-trap the door before bed doesn’t just go away. We’re still eating like we’ve never seen food before. And for the first time in nearly a year, we can understand everything said to us. And near us. Suddenly unable to tune out the conversations of others, we’re too distracted to have one of our own.
People like to ask us “So, how WAS it?” or “You must feel like completely different people, huh?” the appropriate answers to which would be novellas, but we find ourselves struggling for words.
Being home is easy, and being home is hard. Slowly things will go back to the way they were…but maybe not all the way back. At least, that’s our hope.
INT: RAMSHACKLE HONG KONG CLOTHING STORE - DAY
DAVE and EMILY pry open overstuffed racks and dig through bins of t-shirts which may be second-hand, factory rejects, or both. Emily excitedly holds up a shirt, barely stifling her laughter.
Oh, check this out -“Unique Happiness Ferris Wheel!”
(written across the front)
Nice! But I don’t know if it beats this one - “Wind Smell”.
MONTAGE of their quest to find the weirdest, bad English t-shirts all around the city.
MUSIC: Perky top 40 hit
Emily crouches in the attic of a store. Finds shirt that says: “Lets have a motorcycle”. Then realizes the back says: “Yes black girls!”
Dave grimaces, shakes head.
CUT TO an obscenely overcrowded store where Emily pops out of a sea of Asians with a shirt that reads: “Favorites. Lovers. Fruit People.”
Dave nods excitedly.
CUT TO Dave and Emily prowling through a night market, combing the stalls. A girl walks by sporting a top emblazoned with: “Doubt of the smile”. They exchange mischievous glances and follow her.
CUT TO another shop. Dave emerges from a dumpster-sized pile of clothes like it’s a ball pit, triumphantly holding a sweatshirt: “Scratch a weak heart”.
Emily cheers and trips over a pile of clothes, but Dave swoops in and gracefully catches her with his strong arms.
A nearby old lady gives a disapproving look.
The quest continues, store after store of funny clothes until…
EXT. CLOSET-SIZED CLOTHING STALL - NIGHT
Emily and Dave emerge laughing and weighed down with shopping bags. Walking down the street into a barrage of neon Chinese signage, they exchange gooey smiles and reach to hold each other’s hand.
More in love than ever.