Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Houston IV: Here comes the Sun

The hardest part about staying in a city for more than a night is leaving behind a new home with new friends, neither of which feel all that new but more like an already slightly warn in shirt that still has years to go and is on the verge of becoming a favorite.

I've met some great people here, like I do everywhere, but here was special in the sense that the community I met, largely due to my host and his friend J.R., rallied so heartily behind this cause and I. Yes, it is a fast paced world of networking that I left behind long ago for my own reasons, but it is well suited to this place and community and it was nice to see how comforting and welcoming even a virtual community could be when it materialized in reality. I'll be leaving behind this fast paced life sadly, but returning to my walk which is always a place I find joy and peace now.

Before I go though, someone else will leave, Sun. Sun is my fellow couchsurfer here in Houston, he stays on the big sofa and I on the love seat. Sun is a South Korean here for school but now touring the USA a bit before heading home in 10 days, in less than an hour he'll be heading off to Fort Worth by train. There are a lot of people I have met here, but there is sort of a special bond while surfing and especially since he speaks somewhat broken English which brings out all the EFL teacher (English as a foreign language) joy in me. He is polite and kind and finds himself amidst large groups of yelling Americans more frequently than he probably would have guessed at the outset of this leg of his journey.

I like that english teacher bit a lot, I don't know why, maybe because for once I feel a little like a host instead of a guest, maybe it is because I can help him or even more likely because I can understand him and communicate better than anyone else around him after years of teaching. I like being able to pick out the exact words or phrases people use in conversations that he is least likely to understand, explain them quickly and keep him in on the whole experience. I remember being around another language I was not totally fluent in, it can be exhausting, frustrating and even isolating, particularly because the people around you assume you can understand because you do speak the language.

Maybe the real reason I like him and want to help him so much is because I admire what he is doing greatly. As much as people give me credit for what I am doing, Sun is in a foreign country, staying with people he has never met and relying on strangers just for the sake of experiencing something and somewhere new. I made him his first peanut butter and jelly sandwich last night after we got back from heading out on the town, it was pretty cool. He didn't think he was going to like, but he did. He also liked Hostess Cupcakes, so I know he's a good person, right?

Ah, I'll be leaving behind lots of new friends here and that will be sad, but it is one of the first times that someone is leaving me, well not me, but the place I am staying at. I wonder if it will be at all different seeing someone go, instead of doing the going myself, I wonder if in him I see my left behind life in Prague and teaching English and if that will be going too. Life takes on strange shapes out here in the world of professional hoboism, do-gooding and existential voyaging. Could a small Korean guy be my past riding away on a train?


Maker's Mark said...

Hi Skip,

Just saw you hoofing it past my office on Center St.

anyway, have a good journey through texas! I just dropped PFEE $20 via paypal.

Great cause.

Mark J.

Skip Potts said...

Thanks a bunch Mark! I really appreciate it!