Sometimes there’s a groggy feeling when the light is not yet out. Before the birds are chirping and the streets feel unfamiliar because the storefronts are closed, the streets are quiet, and the trash has been picked up. There’s something to a rising sun, that will change all this. I’m in Hong Kong, waiting for the 5am bus to the airport and this morning scene has become familiar to me from all over the world.
I reflect on my arrival in Paris almost two months ago. Before the sunrise, the airport was not yet open, dark, and a few people wandered the terminal for the first shuttle, taxi, or train. I, on the other hand, loitered for an hour outside of customs before initiating a search for a train into the city. I was waiting out the nervousness. Waiting for the anxiety that built up from months of anticipation, preparation, and expectation for the two month long journey to melt away. Finally, I mustered up the courage to buy a train ticket into Paris. Coming out of the airport tunnel on the train, one moment was all it took to wash away all the nervous feelings—I watched the sunrise. To the east, bare winter trees silhouetted against a warm sky, to the west, houses basked in a vivid orange light. The world was waking up, and I was under the same sky as I was in Seattle.
Mornings became my anchor for two months during my travel. The sun knows no boarders, and in the cities I traveled, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai, Yangon, Macau, and Hong Kong I realized all of us are under an undivided sky. The sun will rise everywhere and people will wake to greet it. Whenever I needed to orient myself, ground myself, and find comfort, I looked to the sunrise and watched a city of people meet a new day. A day of transport, commerce, and construction, the fabric of every city.
In Paris, a woman lights her 2nd cigarette of the morning and stashes the lighter in her expensive handbag while she walks along the Seine to work.
On the tube in London, a suited man with slick black shoes reads the City AM paper with music buds in his ears. Two loud Indian men to his right, a striking black girl in fur with red lipstick to his left.
In Amsterdam, the window instillation driver stops at the cross waiting for a herd of cyclists to pass. The man cycling with a rolling suitcase makes the driver miss his light.
Outside the old mote of Chang Mai, a mass of scooters weave through stopped cars to the edge of the intersection at a red light. A rather heavy set but upright Thai flicks his cigarette and ash falls to his green flip-flops before he makes a left turn.
On 29th St in Yangon, the woman with a painted face and beetle nut red teeth flays a fish over newspaper on the pavement while calling out the sale of the day. A Hindu woman carefully selects the freshest chicken of the fly infested pile across the sidewalk.
In Macau, the Chinese construction worker wearing grey fights for space at the front door of bus 34 while the ones in the back bob their heads falling asleep for the hour long ride.
In Hong Kong, the suited Chinese man with slick black shoes shouts in Cantonese on his phone at the international airport while his wife wipes a lipstick smudge with a tissue and stashes the rest in her expensive handbag. Two loud Indian men to her left, I am to her right.
On this morning of March 25th, I watch the sunrise from the Hong Kong Airport on my way home to Seattle. The hustle of flying halfway around the world almost makes me forget to observe such a momentous occasion. But in a moment, I catch the mountains silhouetted against a warm sky, the trees in a flowering spring bloom, and the vivid orange reflecting off the water. I’m brought back to my first day in Paris, nervous at the airport and searching for my center with the rising sun.
I’ve come a long way. I’ve hugged old friends shared stories of “back n’ the days.” I’ve ogled over voluptuous pastries and tall men with nice hair. I’ve played Cards Against Humanity with total strangers on the theatre steps at dawn. I rode a bike drunk over the canals of Amsterdam in the middle of the night and jumped on the bed because damnit “we’re in Paris!” I’ve flown around the world in anticipation for love only to be brushed off. I’ve danced and drank Johnny Walker with Burmese singing their hearts out to a guitar before noon in the park. I’ve tandem biked London streets wearing a loch ness onesie with a zebra at the steer. I’ve painted the night sky at the steps of St. Paul in Macau. I’ve made friends, felt romance, been loved and returned love. I’ve laughed with the best of them and toasted with others. I’ve erupted with heartache and I’ve found my way back to happiness, always beginning back at sunrise.
On this day, March 25th, I get two mornings. A beginning of the end, and a beginning to the future, departing Hong Kong at 7:55am and a landing at 7:45am in Seattle. The Seattle airport smells of fresh brewed coffee, outside a fresh fragrance of pine. The sunrise hidden behind the clouds and rain feels like home, but I watch from the train and bus as the city rises to meet the morning. The construction workers diverting my old bus route, the cyclists commuting on the streets. The quiet morning bustle feels familiar not because it’s home, but because it’s familiar to the other cities I’ve traveled to around the world. Beautiful in its own way, basking under its own light. This morning in Seattle is my second start of today, waking up to meet the prospects of the future.