It Ends When

Da Nang, Vietnam

It ends when its covered with leaves,
It ends when the leaves wither,
It ends when it turns to ashes,
And a new vine will grow, —————

-Yoko Ono

It ends when its covered with leaves

(Sic, of course.)

I began 2015 much as I began 2014: same job, same apartment, same relationship, same school.

I had a very nice life. I worked at Google, which I am told is the best place to work. I had a brilliant, beautiful artist girlfriend who spent weekends in my comfortable Brooklyn Heights apartment. I went to classes up at Columbia, indulging my academic passions.

But the leaves were gathering.

It ends when the leaves wither

One by one, the leaves fell and they withered.

In May, I went to my last class at Columbia.

In June, my girlfriend left to go live in Korea.

In July, I quit my job at Google.

At the end of July, I left my home in New York. I would come back again, I knew, but only for a couple of weeks. I went to Saigon for a week and Korea for a month. I didn’t want to leave Korea when it was done. It had begun to feel like home, and I wanted to stay and put down roots.

But it wasn’t the right time yet.

It ends when it turns to ashes

In August, I came home.

In September, it wasn’t home anymore. I packed  up my apartment, giving away what I couldn’t keep and shipping the rest to my parents in Arizona. I cried when I said goodbye for the last time at the Korean laundromat up the block.

What had been was no more. The city I’d called home for 23 years, in one way or another, was no longer home. And nowhere else was home yet either.

And a new vine will grow, —————

Everything was in a backpack now.

I took the backpack to Atlanta, where I met and made friends with my new nephew. I took the backpack to Phoenix, where I got a drivers license that says I’m an Arizonan. I took the backpack to Seattle to visit an old friend.

And then I took the backpack to Thailand. At last I was in Southeast Asia, in the place I’d dreamed and obsessed about for years. And it was like and unlike what I’d imagined. And I was delighted and frightened.

I learned how to make friends on the road. I learned how to make peace with the uncertain quality of the next hotel room, how to go to a new place and another new place and work out on the way what it is I’d do and see when I got there. I got much, much better at Backpack Tetris. I went to Pai and chilled the fuck out.

And then I went to Malaysia. And now I’m in Da Nang, Vietnam, sitting outside at a Highlands Coffee, watching ponchos with helmets whiz past on scooters as rain sluices into the Han River.

In a few days I’ll be in Myanmar.

I’m not sure what 2016 will bring. I will travel, and then eventually I’ll stop traveling and start my next new life. A new vine is growing. I’ll go to Korea and let the vine take hold.

If 2015 was a year of endings and transitions, let 2016 be a year of new beginnings.

To all of my friends and family, I miss you and love you and wish you a wonderful, joyous 2016 and beyond. 새해 복 많이 받으세요. Happy New Year. Hope to see you soon.


4 Replies to “It Ends When”

Comments are closed.