I was sitting in the riverboat cabin minding my own business near the Swiss family when one of their boys woke from a nap, looked at me, and said to his careworn mother, in woozy German, “There is a man sitting in that seat.” Until that boy called me a man I’d never considered myself to be one, and thought it strange to be traveling on my own, working and living by myself in a strange foreign country. It seemed as though I was too weak to manage these grownup challenges, and that my true place was in my parent’s basement, relegated to the cobwebs as the eternally pimply teenager, the source of innumerable shudders from my former high school classmates, most of whom must be astounded that I’ve escaped that fate—if they ever think about me at all.
Either that, or I belonged in an office, xeroxing documents and filling in spreadsheets; or in a restaurant, asking you folks how you’re all doing tonight; or in a classroom, scribbling notes for yet another lecture in yet another university promising me the world in exchange for a few years of my time and a few stacks of unrepayable loans.
Perhaps the boy mistook my scraggly beard for maturity. Perhaps he was just young. Or perhaps, after whining for months through my Asian viajes, a change had come over me. After this exposure to the outside world beyond the cozy bounds of college, I was turning into something new, and no longer the trembling child who had, upon his arrival to that public school back in Busan—upon his arrival to the real world—inwardly begged the minivan into which he had been sequestered, to keep on driving.
—excerpt from Kingdoms in the Sun, a new ebook from the author of this blog which costs less than a royal with cheese.