Sailing So Swiftly

Suddenly, we have only a month and a half left at sea. It’s goodbye, shiny Singapore, tonight.
I call my mom to tell her. Her voice does a double take. “You’re leaving, or you just got there?”

Good question, I think.

We spent the same amount of time in Singapore as in Mauritius. Since then, though, seconds steal away our sleep. Where has October gone?

India flew by in a whirl of sensory overload. Gaining a sister through a smile. Sari shopping and insights from dinners spent discussing intimacy on rooftops. Rattling rickshaw rides down smelly streets showing the prevailing spice of life in history and poverty and me.

After India, Singapore is surrea: we arrive in a glittering harbor, disembark in dictatorial Disney World for adults, walk the sanitized streets of Little India pinching ourselves, gape at architectural awe and aesthetic amazement. Prostitution is legal, but people are killed for selling marijuana.

Manesh likes India better. A worker on the Singapore flyer, the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel, he moved here two months ago. He came to study. We coax his opinion on his new country. He feels repressed here. And, he misses his girlfriend. She can’t come. I don’t know why. I tell him I miss my Indian boyfriend back home, too.

The wheel turns, and we step off. I must make peace with ghostly yearnings of paths untraveled. We are ourselves under dictatorship, explorers obedient to the mother ship Explorer sailing on through the South China Sea. Our minds do double overtime to assimilate a backlog of memories and experiences, trying to make sense of it all. Writing helps. So does talking to friends. Getting no sleep doesn’t. Meditation helps most of all.

I head for Vietnam tomorrow, ride on wings to Cambodia the day after.  Soon it will again be Asian industrialization, China’s Great Wall, independent train travel to see Steven, a mish-mash of finals, skydiving and hula dancing, saying thank you and goodbye. No, good morning. I must remember, an ending is always also a beginning.

I will be processing my semester at sea for a long time.

—Ellie Nolan

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