Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2 weeks in Vietnam, a story in ailments

untitled by Valeria Heine

characteristically, i sit at my desk for 26 hours straight. she sleeps. wakes, i'm still there. it's humid, so i'm slippery like a sea mammal. smell like death. (she informs me of this). i hear voices, occasionally my door opens or closes, but it's a blur. i hear something about packing. i'm told we have to leave now. i shower. i'm handed a brown bag full of tshirts and the only two jeans you ever wear anyway. she drives. i continue to edit the document on the laptop that sits on my lap. i have a purple pen in my mouth that's been there 2 hours i forgot to take it out before and now my mouth is numb around it.


by the end of the first week my body overheats and i shiver in bed and sweat and gasp and can't sleep. what's wrong with you? exhaustion i explain. what's that that's not an illness. i lay still for 27 hours and wake up the next morning ready to walk some more. that's it? it's over? i nod. Ho Chi Minh City ain't killing me this week. let's hope so she says.


by the 9th day i'm back in bed. this time it's not exhaustion. at least, not one i'm conscious of. again? this one's different i explain. i lay in bed for 19 hours and wake up the next morning, still dizzy from the sound of the Discovery Channel that's been on all night and shower myself back into health.


- hey do you know where the bathroom is?
- i think it's...
- no time to think. must walk faster. meetyouherelaterjustwaitgottagobye.


then for three days i try and keep thoughts out of my head that want to be in my head. she wants to know why it's such a big deal. first i have to identify what exactly is 'it'. it's mediocrity i finally admit. i'm terrified of it. i'm worried i'm perfectly ordinary and will live an ordinary life and will be miserable in that ordinary plain way that everyone is (without knowing), and happy in that ordinary plain mediocre way that everyone is (forced and strained constantly for three flower petals to call romance, and every year a bigger tv must mean you're advancing in life). i swear, no one who knows you thinks you're mediocre. you're actually like the least mediocre person i know. nothing about you is mediocre. i smile, gently. i know it's all in my head... but 'it' is what it is. what's mediocre about being told you were just awarded a first-class honours degree? i mull this over. 3-5% of people have those i say. that's too many. she stares at me horrified. you are actually delusional. oh my god. i'm dating a delusional person. i nod. she's right. she is.

- hey, guess what.
- what?
- on day 14 Vietnam tried to kill me through my brain.
- ha. i suppose your immune and GI systems fought it off, what's left?
- don't jinx us into broken bones babs.
- amen bruthaman.


i arrive home. hand out some presents, put in a load of laundry and fall asleep for 14 hours. i wake up, pick a tie and go off to a clerkship interview.

late afternoon i collapse (again) on my couch. put up my feet, and close my eyes wishing myself into stone.

1 comment:

Triptosaniac said...

Sublime. You must continue for the sake of man kind and all his loved ones.