Let’s talk about taxi rides.
Taxi rides to nowhere because you don’t know where you’re going.
What it’s like to tell a man who you don’t know, who doesn’t know you, but knows that you are a waiguoren, what it’s like to step into his control.
We have to give up control in order to gain control.
Lose it to gain it.
Lately I’ve been taking lots of taxis with my sub-par Chinese, and sometimes that’s scary because I swear, every time I go anywhere, these taxi drivers take me on a different route home.
There are so many ways to end up at where we are going. None of our routes are wrong if they get us to the destination, but sometimes we just have to go slower to get there. And is it wrong if the route we take takes us somewhere entirely off the map, that we weren’t planning to go, that we never saw ourselves arriving?
We arrive to the destination that wasn’t what we planned as our own, and then what?
What do we do next?
Get dropped off. Look around. And realize you’re completely lost, and this isn’t where you expected to end up, and it feels bad because it looks wrong, so what now?
Stay and work your way through it?
Stop another taxi driver who will tell you that he doesn’t want to take you to where you think you want to go?
Taxi rides and broken ties.
I’m too tired to write.
But Im too tired to dream.
And I’m too afraid to sleep.
I know what it’s like now, losing yourself inside yourself.
We spend too much time alone in a place where people don’t understand us and we forget ourselves as humans.
Loneliness is a distraction for me. Because now I’m afraid of my own stupid mind’s inability to make a decision.
Taxis, taxis, taxis, and turns.
Turns and tricks, and the same route home for 100 kuai more or 100 kuai more for a route that took you nowhere for longer.
I can’t focus on one thing but the comfort in the control of a stranger, in his backseat as he travels me to home, it’s a comfort that reminds me of the long rides home. The sounds of cars calms me and it’s strange.
Because why do we feel so safe— why do I feel so safe inside the metal walls which are more unsafe than the alternative of walking or running or hiding.
Taxis and taxis and turns and taxis.
He turns onto a road that looks like we’re leaving the city, but if I am concerned, I can’t say anything because my Chinese is not good enough to explain why I’m worried.
The usual taxi ride which usually costs about 60 yuan is now creeping on the upwards of 100 yuan, and I still don’t see familiarity. Buildings that rise out of nothing. Cranes that hang in the air as if waiting for the world to make it move. And a darkening sky that threatens for rain or thunder, or just night.
And I’m tired but I don’t want to sleep.
It’s time to sleep.
I close my eyes, and drift away from the present, lost inside thoughts of you and travels outside the unknown.
I want to know again but I am too lost to be found. I ask for advice, not wanting advice, but wanting someone to tell me what I know they cannot tell me. Because who can tell me who to be if I don’t know who I want to be?
Time is not my friend these days, but it is time that will do most of the work if I let it.
tired. Tired. tired. And taxis. And Time.
Teaching. Tired. Taxis. Tired.
Metro. Tired. Stand. Sit. Tap. Teacher.
Wuhan Taxi drivers won’t always take you. They’ll tell you they don’t want to go because going is too inconvenient for their schedule, that of which I understand. It is not convenient working an hour away from my home in Hankou, nor is it convenient to look for a taxi for twenty minutes but the metro is a fifteen minute walk, and maybe I’ll get lucky this time.
Walk and wave down a taxi. Arrive at the stop that you don’t want to arrive at. Tick-tock. Precious time slipping away but what is time if time does not exist?
I’m too tired to try to figure out the meaning in my own words.
So taxi it is.
Stand at the corner.
Let a strange man control where I am headed because I don’t know where I want to go, I only know where I need to be now.
Listen to the blurs of his accent melt into a song of yells and shouts as he talks on his cell phone, and mutters about the foreigner on his walkie talkie.
Let not knowing roll you into some kind of comfort because no matter what you won’t know until your Chinese improves, and even then, communication will be difficult because communicating with people in English is difficult too.
Tired tenses that make no sense.
I feel close to home when I take a taxi because roads look like roads everywhere. Going under bridges, around intersections, through stoplights. Cement and pavement. Tires. White noise that calms us, and headphones that hide us. Scenery that distracts us, and movement towards something or away from everything.
Somedays here, I have no idea what I want to do because I feel like I can do anything, but being able to do anything is overwhelming in a sort of beautiful way. It’s suffocating because it’s terrifying that we might make a wrong decision.
And then what?
What now that the road is tough?
When we don’t know what to do, what do we do?
Stand still, or pretend that we know what we are doing until we remember what we wanted to do in the first place?
Maybe both. Or maybe neither.
Take a taxi and see where it takes you.