It is unsurprising that a journey such as the 14degrees Journey clarified what and who I want in life. Clarification of what is worth striving for, and clarification of who life is worth spending with. On both counts, this one year since the end of my skateboarding journey has been rather fruitful and worthwhile.
I am very pleased to announce (with a smile on my dial), that I am now engaged to the woman who is still, even after a full 7 years since we first met, the most engaging and beautiful woman I have ever met.
Haidee is her name. More and more becoming the love of my life every day.
The wedding is set for the 5th of February 2010.
I was drinking some Jasmine tea at a cheap little Asian* restaurant the other day and it reminded me of western China. I felt the aromas of that aromatic tea and closed my eyes. I was taken back to Turpan. Xinjiang Province. Back to the heat. The unforced rhythms of life in a place where the heat dictates pace and schedule.
I recalled the precious cool hours of the morning. Rolling out of a sleepy town at dawn in the haze. Quiet. Free. Smooth.
I had my eyes closed for only a moment, but what seemed like a lifetime of images flashed before my eyes.
From the cool dawn I snapped over to an empty beef noodle shop. I am the only one there. A cool spring water fed air conditioning unit blows tepid air in my direction as I slurp up the salty broth. At once enjoying the saltiness, at once despising the hot liquid doing nothing for my already over-heated body.
I sip on the Jasmine tea.
I close my eyes once more.
Near Shanghai. A great pile of noodles sits before me. Must eat. Can’t eat. Body too tired. To hang with the pain, I consume what my body craves. What my stomach will reject. What my mind despises.
I sip on the Jasmine tea. It soothes my stomach.
I write this in a Starbucks café in Auckland, New Zealand. Beside me sits an empty Tall Tzuo Chai Latte. A paper cup with a plastic lid with my name scrawled on it.
Tastes nice. Sugar overload. Worlds away from Shanghai. From Turpan.
Peppermint walls, wooden trim, textured wallpaper, tiled floor. Round tables, stained chairs.
Paralyzing normality. Comforting conformity.
Everything is a commodity here. Even uniqueness is a commodity. It is normal to be unique. Give me necessity. Allow me the essentials. Nothing else. In my affluence I can afford the choice.
Given the choice, they would choose this. Anything to get out of that.
This is not how it has to be. Can we strike a balance between this and that? Can we have affluence and a down-to-earth necessity? Or must we always want more. Or must we know our place, never strive.
Contentment is a slippery creature to grasp.
Happy despite the circumstances: an elusive state of mind.
Thank you, Creator, for what I have.
Thank you, Creator, for where I am.
Give me perseverance.
Give me peace.
Grant us sight.
Let it be.
* By Asian I really do mean generic Southeast Asian restaurant. A mishmash of Thai, Indian, Eastern Chinese, Vietnamese. Locations were unimportant for this Asian restaurant. To the New Zealander it was just ‘Asian’, and that is fine.
Despite receiving this certificate over a month ago, this post has been long overdue. Simply because doing justice to a post like this is hard work. It starts and ends with thanks:
Community is the most essential factor in any successful endeavour. Without the Skatefurther.com community, I wouldn’t have made it across China and to my goal at Shanghai. Period.
Dave Cornthwaite built upon Jack Smith’s success and launched a worldwide phenomenon; long distance travel by skateboard. Thank you for the inspiration, Dave.
To know that there were still yet many others pushing themselves to their limits on boards, or bucking the trend and choosing human power over oil-power to get themselves from A to B on a daily basis was a huge motivating factor. Thank you.
14degrees.org Blog Readers
An especially big thank you to all those readers who made the effort and choice to type encouraging messages and comments during the journey. Some were faithful readers right from the start in 2006, some latched on towards the end. Whenever you did get on line with the trip, you were a huge boost to morale. This blog was for you.
All those who invited me in to stay
Many of those who invited me in to stay will never see this blog post. But to those with access to internet, thank you. Your trust is a beautiful testament to the goodness in this world.
All those who assisted financially
You know who you are. Thank you.