We ended the day on the rooftop, taking in our first views of the city.
I use the term “day” lightly here, as I saw two sunsets and a sunrise in those 24 hours. We coasted in-flight through Sundays and Mondays that would never belong to us. We witnessed through portholes, the early fruits of a sunrise that we would never see ripen. Not in that country. Not in that time zone.
It was like a strange form of time travel. From Philly to Qatar, to Malaysia. From morning, to night, to afternoon, to morning, to night again.
The disorientation freaked me out at first. Seeing a half-day melt into night before my very eyes left me feeling unhinged in a way I had never experienced before. After my first stretch of anxiety, I thanked God above for in-flight wifi and amazing friends.
I was so pleased by how snugly I fit into the people palette in Qatar. Whiteness was no longer the standard, from advertisements to flight attendants, to patrons moving about the terminals, everyone was was a shade of brown.
There isn’t much more to say about this day, except that we made it, and we were grateful. And we ended it on the rooftop.
I awoke on what we might call Day 3 to the sound of my own voice. “Sorry, I have to go!” I was saying. I threw the covers back and heard the slapping of my own feet against the tile. When I came to, I’d reached the bathroom door and was staring at myself, delirious. “I’m in Asia,” I said consciously. “I’m in Asia.” I was having another one of those night episodes, sans terror. I went back to bed and awoke twice more before I decided to stay up and wait for the sunrise.
My journal will tell you that I’m no good at day-to-day recaps. I don’t record memories with the and then, and then, and then, mindset. I catalog my day in moments, both in my mind, and in my chronicles.
The morning weather was merciful. We met with Kris at the Antipodean Cafe, and ate on the patio, where I got dirt cheap, delicious, banana pancakes. We traded vibes over breakfast, and I let out a declaration that will follow me for the rest of my days: “My freedom is the most important thing to me right now.”I think the breeze was teasing me. It whipped about my shoulders every time I zoned out, thinking how incredible it was that I, me, Roco, was in Malaysia.
Kris’s job looks like a dream. It’s exactly the type of modern thing you see in the movies, with beanbag chair meeting rooms, and unconventional, fun decor. It’s the type of place where people hug you to greet you and are excited to meet you just because you are a friend of someone they hold dear. I wasn’t surprised by the hugs and genuine excitement. Kris just has a good spirit about her. It’s only natural that people love her.
I think obligation drew me to Petronas towers. It’s just something you see when you’re in KL, like the monuments in DC, or the Statue of Liberty in NYC. By then the sun had stretched and yawned, and was ready to get to work, heating the day to the core. In our walk around the simple garden behind the towers, Gab and I agreed that men are universally trash. Not just Brooklyn boys, not just Naija men, but all of them. We were friendly but firm in our attempts to ward them off.
The infinity pool was cold, but calming, and we spent a portion of our afternoon in poolside chairs, writing, drawing, and reading books.
Back at our place, we took the naps we deserved, then scurried to dress and meet Kris again for dinner and the Petaling Street Market. Our trip was short-lived, but it brought me my proudest moment of the day. I had fun haggling prices and I walked away with something my sister wanted for her birthday. Something I would have paid twice as much for in the States.
I’m “home” now, in our little Air BnB, recording my experiences before I forget the way my first day in Asia made me feel. It’s nine past midnight, so officially Deepvali here, the Festival of Lights, and I’m trying not to let the sudden eruptions of fireworks distract me. I’m excited to be among a people in celebration tomorrow. We’ll see what the festival brings.
Days 2 and 3.