American in Transit

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One and a half days of upcoming transit. I’ve dreaded this since the day I realized I read the fine print on my itinerary and had booked a overnight 9 hour layover. It’s going to happen.

Left the hotel a little early.

Always have a cushion. Just in case something happens.. Once I went to Newark airport and left my passport in my car. Luckily, it  was parked in the next town over at my friend’s house, so there was enough time to go back and get it.  I checked out and asked for a taxi since I didn’t want to end up sweaty.  I won’t be able to shower in this long transit.. Yuck. I asked the receptionist how much.  She said $4. Shit! She got me a tuk tuk, not an air conditioned taxi ($7).  It was 4pm so the heat had already died down some.  The breeze on the ride to the airport kept the sweaty away. Nbd. Got to the airport in about 10 minutes. I’m super early, so I sat on an empty bench.  Suddenly I was surrounded by old white British ladies with silver hair and big sunhats. They really had to pick my bench?? There were 3 other completely empty benches. My breathing space becomes filled with the strong smell of old lady perfume.. Like a mixture of spring flowers.. summer flowers..Easter flowers.. baby powder.. a thrift store.. and a touch of Ben Gay and cats. For the first time on this trip I am reminded of my job.. Well, my patients.. They all rush up and leave when their check in counter opens. These Golden Girls can run fast..!

Shortly after the Brits leave, someone to the left of me pushes my bag aside, almost off the bench. To the right of me a Korean lady with a very large hot pink sun visor mounts my right thigh. This lady seriously just sat on my leg.. I’m not sure who I love more, the Chinese, or the Koreans..

JK.. the Chinese have a special place in my heart.. the Koreans on the other hand.. They rule my stomach.. Yum! Their check in counter opens and KTown rushes off like a swarm of chatty army of ants..

Traveling always puts me in the middle of a swirl of languages. Trying to figure out where people are from is like a game to me.  Each place has a certain mix of tourists.  White people are always fun to guess because they can be from anywhere…

Most people are usually thrown off by my presence.. For the usual reasons:

– I’m asian. But I don’t have a distinct identifying look. (most people end up settling for ”Thai”.. But only after the ”Chinese? Japanese? Korean?” run through)

– I’m American, but I’m not white

– I’m American, but I travel pretty far from home, which is pretty uncommon.. Americans are amongst my least encountered species in my travels..

Another added fun fact.. Only in Asia do they not accept my ”American” identity.. In my experience, anyway.. I’m assuming because of the fact that it’s probably hard to understand the concept when you live in a very homogenous culture..? Euros and Canadians that I’ve met have often nicknamed me ”Jersey” and have totally overlooked that whole brown aspect.. I met a Chinese blooded chick with from Oz on the immigration/visa line here.. her full on ozzie accent made a cute cultural hybrid..

Besides, I’ve tried identifying myself as Filipino.. Only having to divulge that I don’t live there, I can’t speak the language, and I was born and raised in the states.

Kinda makes me a fraud.

I just can’t win.

But I’ll admit that I play both cards when the time is right..

Many times Filipinos like to do the group thang and take care of their own kind, which comes in handy sometimes.  Being American can sometimes open doors that a Filipino can’t..

Shake what your mama gave ya..

After my check in at the counter to get my boarding pass, the counter boy tells me, ”Wait,.I have a present for you.”

A present? =)

Eyes light up.

He hands me a sticker that says ”Transfer”.  Similar to the one posted on my luggage.

”Put on your shirt.”

Minor letdown.

And now I match my luggage.

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