The “What the hell am I doing here” trip, Patterns edition
As I chatted with the Marine sitting next to me, I became more and more fascinated with the ways he led his guys. So many similarities with things I’ve been trying in my dad’s practice.
The intercom announced that we’d be landing soon. Both of us stopped chatting. We pondered all the new information we just gained from each other.
In that quiet space, I wondered what the hell I was doing. I knew I was flying into Wilmington, NC for a school, but hardly knew what it was about. When my Marine buddy had asked, I gave him the generic answer. “It’s a school to help you break down your own patterns, and study and adopt the patterns of people you look up to and are successful…” What does that even mean?!
I stepped out of the plane, into a world I’d never seen before. I had no idea what to expect. My Marine buddy had already gotten off. I had my bags. No need to bother with baggage claim. Just a chance to take in the beauty of the new place.
And boy, was it beautiful. It looked like a welcoming southern home. As I took it all in, a small part of me wondered if this was what houses on a plantation looked like. Did the masters of slaves live in this type of luxury? Banishing the thought from my mind, I decided to appreciate the building itself. The care and craftswomanship that went into it. I’ll continue fighting bias and oppression. But decided to keep a positive mental attitude and enjoy the airport for the beauty it revealed.
I drove out into the Wilmington night in the Hyundai rental. Driving around listening to Jazz on the XM, I saw flashes of what I remembered of the south in the films I’d seen. Those scenes depicting a racially segregated past stuck out the most. I wasn’t scared, but had no idea what to expect. I thought of Luisiana, of marshes, of rivers, of cotton fields. No, that can’t be right, I thought.
The jazz continued blazing. It served as a nice backdrop to exploring this new place.
All I needed to do was find a cheap place to stay.
Howard Johnson Express at $40 a night. The reviews sucked, but who cared? Staying in such ‘luxury’ only adds to the adventure of a ‘What the hell am I doing’ trip.
As I walked back outside toward my room, I saw a white guy getting out of his car. He was a tough looking guy, with a bald head and tattoos littering his body. The front desk was behind me, and he needed to pass me to get there. As he approached, he looked me straight in the eye without flinching. I felt myself tense up. flashes of my Krav Maga training blazed through my head. I felt my muscles prepare for action. Shit, I thought. Here’s where we get started.
“Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa…” I almost stopped dead in my tracks.
“V, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh!” I barely got it out. “Thank you!” I said as we smiled and he walked by.
What? My heart raced. What a kind dude! What a saint! How did he…? Hre I was thinking he’d say something else.
It’s a sign that you’re in the right place, I thought.
I went back into my car to check some stuff on my phone. I saw him walking back toward his room. I needed to say something. My heart quickened a little bit, nervous about the approach. Screw it.
“Thanks so much for that man, it really meant a lot.”
“Of course. I have a lot of respect for the Sikhs.” 😀
“Are you from around here brother?” I asked.
“Nah, I’m from New Jersey. My wife and I are on the rocks, and she’s got the kids. I’m staying here for now.”
I was confused, but it didn’t seem like he wanted to chat about it. “Oh, alright. Well, if there’s any way I can help, please let me know.”
With a short “Thanks”, he went into his room.
The rest of our interaction didn’t go as I expected. I felt grateful for him reaching out, but now I worried about him and ways I could help. I had no idea he’d be gone by the morning.
I walked into the room and took everything in. Not bad for 40 bucks a night and a 2.5 start rating. 2 big beds, a tv, a desk to work from, full bathroom. What else could I need?
I started unpacking my stuff. Something seemed not right. I looked around my luggage to find what was missing. That’s when it hit me.
I forgot to pack an extra kachera.
I looked around for my extra kachera. I couldn’t find it anywhere. My heart sank. How could I go a week without having an extra kachera?
I already forgot my charger, and now my kachera! Shit. Maybe I’m really not supposed to be here. Maybe I’m not ready for this. What if they hate me? What if I’m not good enough to be part of this group? What if they find me out as a phony? Shit. No kachera, no idea what to expect, tired, too many emails, my dad’s office failing without me, I’m alone, I’m scared, I have no work to show, I can’t work out, I have no directions, I need to write…
Stop right now, I thought to myself. I need solutions, not more problems.
Ok. No kachera. I’ll just wash what I’ve got and dry it as much as possible. It feels uncomfortable. But it’s the best I got. I can find the local Gurudwara in the morning.
I couldn’t do much else, and needed to get some sleep. I needed to wash away the worries. Let myself take a break. Get to bed. Let the night envelope you.
Or I could just stay up a bit longer and watch Inglorious Basterds. I felt nervous and distracted. Screw you, emotions. I’m chilling for a bit. Screw you, perfect self!
… Knocked out within 20 minutes.
When I first stepped into the space, I took in the beauty and simplicity of the overall look.
There were 5 other people there. I immediately recognized Josh Long. He had tattoo’s running up and down his thick arms. He smiled wide, exposing his genuine care and concern for other people. He smiled, walked over, and welcomed me with a strong hand shake. Something about him was different.
“Thanks for coming man. It’s good to have you.”
Little did I know that over the next week, I’d look up to him as an older brother.