Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Heading to the Home of Chicken Wings

I'll be heading to the mainland in a couple of weeks for the first time in nearly five years and I've been thinking quite a bit about what it'll be like when I get there.

I got my first taste of the "States" a couple of months ago when I spent three weeks on Maui and saw hordes of haoles everywhere I went. I was amazed to see white people all over the place, and even more taken aback that I didn't know any of them.

If you have never been to Saipan or lived on an island then you might not know what what I'm talking about. See, I've been one of the minorities out here for just about half the decade and I know most of the white folks (or at least know of them) who live our small island community.

Basically, if I don't know a white guy or girl on Saipan, chances are that they're either new teachers, doctors, lawyers, or visiting from a ship (take your pick). Not so in Maui. We're talking white folks everywhere.

I almost felt compelled to introduce myself and welcome them to the island but it wasn't my island. Ai Adai!

That wasn't the only difference. I also had my run of the local supermarkets. In a word, Wow! I had forgotten what it was like to get whatever you want whenever you want it. And bulk food? Man, it was great.

Everything was fresh and ready to go, and tons of it. It was weird not to have to horde things that were in stock because you never know when they'll be available again.

These aren't knocks on Saipan, mind you. I know what life is like here in the CNMI and I love everything about it. I made my choice to stay here because of all that there is to offer, not in spite of what is lacking. If I wanted everything to be different I would move.

Anyway, those were a couple of differences but not all of them. Perhaps one of the most noticeable things was traffic. Sure, there weren't any serious snags on the highway, but I was stuck in traffic when they closed part of a road during a wildfire.

Yes, I was on a cell phone and waiting in traffic for more than an hour! I know that's nothing for the Guam folks, but literally you can drive from Saipan's northernmost tip to the southernmost tip any time of day in half an hour.

The only thing that holds up traffic is when there's a huge funeral procession that congests long stretches of road. The worst is when they hit the single lanes, but that's all part of the culture and one of the reasons why I'm here as well.

I can only imagine what it'll be like to get behind the wheel in Buffalo, New York. I've driven cross country three times, up and down the west coast from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angels and from Toronto to Key West on the East coast.

I've spent a lot of time driving but my speed demon ways that had me rocketing down the 33 on my way to Elmwood Ave. have been eroded by my tropical surroundings to allow for the more relaxed style of Saipan's roads.

Speeding here makes no sense. Even if you zip by someone on the fast part of Middle Road, you're bound to catch up with them at one of the next traffic lights. All that means is that you can sit back and relax. Nobody cares if you're a couple of minutes late anyway. Again, another reason why I love this place.

That will not be the case when I return to my beloved Buffalo, New York, where your horn is an extension of your middle finger. Actually, people back home aren't that bad. In fact, the most obnoxious of driver will probably be the same guy helping you when your car gets stuck in the snow. It's like penance.

Another thing that I won't enjoy in New York is the company of the people who I've become close to over the past few years. It's not like I need to carry around a security blanket of peeps ala Linus, but I can't walk into place without knowing at least someone here.

My ex, who sounds an awful lot like Grover from Sesame Street when she's drunk whether she admits to it or not, asked me who I'll be hanging around with when I get back.

It was a good question, but aside from just figuring that I'd look up the old gang and hand out, I really hadn't spent much time thinking about it. During one of our semi-sarcastic conversations she laughingly doled out "Who do you really think you're going to go out with, anyway? You kind of ditched all of your friends when you left."

Shit. She's kind of right. I mean, when I first came out here I called my friends to tell them what a great place Saipan was, but over time we kind of lost touch. I remember faces and a lot of first names, but lately I've been trying to remember the last names of some of my hockey teammates and couldn't.

That sucks, but I hope they'd understand. I was wondering what I would say to them if I saw them out. Maybe I'd get lucky and they would have forgotten my name as well.

It should be easy too. I mean, it's not like I'm on a TV commercial, had a radio show, wrote for the paper, or played for the national soccer team in New York. Not like I'm anything special here, but I'll be just another ugly face in the crowd over there.

1 comment:

Kimiko said...

Have a great time over there.(^_^)