18 October 2012

Letter No. 5

This time tomorrow, I'll be in Beijing. I'll probably be having breakfast in the hostel cafe, listening to Cris plan our day aloud, and trying to get my head around the vastness of the things he's about to show me (“Tiananmen Square is how many hundred Bellarmine Fields?!”). I'll probably be a little groggy and achy already, considering how late our flight will have arrived. And I'll definitely know whether I brought enough clothes for the single-digit dark-hour temperatures.

This will be my second trip abroad since my family returned to the Philippines 15 or so years ago, and my first trip abroad without them. It's also my first trip anywhere with Cris. It seems like a major milestone, a big deal, another important experience on the way to getting older. But I'd rather not overthink things more than I may have already.

I'm just looking forward to the break from regularly scheduled life. I'm going to put it out there: I've been feeling burned out for the past couple of months. My head's been in a fog, and I haven't been doing so well at work; I've been underperforming and letting people down. Our tickets to Beijing were booked months ago, when I hadn't expected or realized that this was where my head would be, but I'm glad now that we'd planned this far ahead, and doubly glad that we're actually going now. Shambling from task to task and trying to pinch and press myself into renewed productivity hasn't been working, so maybe I just need to go away for a while.

I've really gotten into Glitch, but I won't deny that a lot of it has been escapism. There's always something new to do in the world of Ur: a new region to explore, another interesting character to meet, another quest to fulfill, another skill to learn and test, a weird new thing to eat or drink, and even a tiny moment of beauty and enlightenment every day – and every day lasts just four hours, so there's always a new day around on the horizon.

It's time now, though, to really wake up in another place, for real-life exploring, real-life people-watching, real-life new-thing-tasting, and maybe some real-life learning and inspiration.

I'm really grateful that I'm about to take this trip. I know that not everyone can be so lucky or blessed, whichever way you want to look at it, so I really want to make the most of the time. I'm looking forward to seeing the sights – the Forbidden City, the drum tower, the Great Wall – but I'm also looking forward to just chilling out at Houhai, maybe riding a bike, and getting to know a place that Cris loves and sometimes loves to hate.

They say that travelling together is a great test of any relationship, and some might say Cris and I shouldn't be taking this trip so early; we haven't been together a year yet. But I don't want to overthink that, either. For one thing, we didn't plan to take this trip alone; we planned it with friends who, sadly, had to back out at the last minute. I'm not about to back out myself just to satisfy some vague convention. If this trip is a test, then I'm glad it's come sooner rather than later. But, I'm sure we'll be fine.

I guess that's it for now; I still have to finish packing. 再见!

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