How I Temporarily Lost My Soul in Kuala Lumpur
Last night manifests as a snare drum within my skull. The night comes back in small cinematic snaps: beer fills my glass, smoke from an arabic tobacco pipe fills the air around us, a bright colored drink is sent over to a smiling Birthday girl, the girls begin to dance as the DJ plays the part of the pied piper with a Beyonce song, and an 8-ball heads into the corner pocket two shots too early for me to win. I take one last drink, say my farewells to my friends, old and new, and then slowly walk through the pre-dawn air back to my hotel room.
I try to spend the day in bed, but the construction crew outside the hotel’s window forces me to my feet. I decide to try and get some writing done at a nearby coffee shop. The light of day is piercing and invasive, the people on the street smell of sweat and earth. I put my sunglasses on to cower from the sun and crowds alike. When I make it to the coffee shop I reach into my pocket to pay the clerk and begin to think of a funny short story in which there is a river made of coffee called Starbucks, and a ferryman named Caffeine who helps you cross to cognizance. It needs work, but is a playful start. The story becomes even more humorous to me as I realize I don’t have enough change for the coffee. I slowly reach into my backpack to find my travel wallet that hides more cash but the wallet is gone. All other thoughts vanish and finding that wallet becomes my new existence; my sole purpose on Earth. I empty the contents of my backpack: books, paper, a computer, power chords, a GoPro Camera, but no travel wallet. The coffee shop begins to spin. The lights stretch like taffy above me and gravity suddenly becomes stronger, weighing my shoulders down. I sit and look through my backpack once more, twice more, a third time with the same results. “No, it must be in the locker at the hostel,” I’m not sure if this is a thought or spoken out loud.
I shuffle back to the hostel as quickly as possible and then sprint up the staircase to my room on the second floor. I put my key into the small pad lock and hear the pins inside slowly shift to allow the key to do its job, but I already know the locker is empty. The door flings open and the space that belongs to my missing wallet sits like a painting I can’t take my eyes from. All at once, I forget how to use the muscles in my legs and my body slumps next to the large grey locker. It had not just been my extra money that was in that wallet, it was my credit cards, my passport, and my future travels. The rest of my trip devolved into a table tennis game of questions and answers from my subconscious: “I’ll go to the embassy today and get a new passport.” “Wait, with what money?” “I’ll have someone wire me money from home.” “How do you even do that? No, I’ll just look it up on the internet.” “How will I pay for food or a place to stay over the next couple days?” “I’ll just ask the hostels around if they could use some help for the next couple days in exchange for food and shelter.”
The internal battle for my future rages on for the next few hours, and I somehow end up walking through China Town. I realize how hungry I am as I pass the restaurant I had eaten at the previous day. My stomach growls loudly in protest as I realize that I won’t be eating anytime today. “Jordan?” A voice behind me announces. I keep walking as there have been many times in the last day that I thought someone had called my name, perhaps there is a Chinese word that is similar. “Jordan?” the second time gets me to turn my head. Before me stands a short Chinese woman in pink and black lycra running clothes. She holds my passport up to my face and measures me against the man in the picture, “I not sure if is you. I found this on ground outside this morning. Check and make sure money is inside.” I couldn’t stop smiling, I felt like she had just pulled me out from the well I was drowning in, “The money is the least important thing in there to me. Thank you so much. You saved my life.” She just smiled and then said, “Okay, bye-bye” and then hurriedly shuffled back into the crowd before I was able to ask her if I could return the favor in anyway.
And so, my adventure continues thanks to the small, old woman in running clothes who had a big heart. As I travel, the altruism of the human race surprises me again and again.