Friday, January 07, 2005

That Vientiane Feeling

The whole day yesterday I had that Vientiane feeling. Well, not exactly, but something close to it. Although I usually fail, I enjoy trying to describe states of mind and feeling for which our language has no shorthand.

So the "Vientiane" feeling comes from the time when Mrs. Primate and I were in Laos in early 1999. We'd been traveling around Asia for several months, but Laos was the only place we felt anything like "culture shock." Specifically, in Vientiane, we'd be walking down the street and one of us would whip around on our heels, certain that someone was just behind us, too close to be there of necessity in this sparsely populated city. And of course no one would be there. We felt spooked the whole time we were in Vientiane, as if there was something we should know, something hidden from us yet whose hints and signs were all around us just at the periphery of our comprehension.

That's how I felt yesterday. Not so much with the someone was there part, more the sensation that something was there, some important bit of information representing the convergence of several lines of causality hovering just below my threshold of consciousness. Little things throughout the day, like a turn of phrase in an otherwise throwaway conversation or the way the sun looked in the late afternoon seemed to be signs but ones I couldn't read; I had a feeling similar to leaving the house certain you've forgotten something but with no idea what it might be. Or perhaps it was more like losing your train of thought while talking to someone. Maybe it was most like that period between being asleep and awake where an idea comes to you - some solution to a previously intractable problem or some insight into a perplexing situation - but you can't remember it once you're fully awake, only lament that you've lost something but you have no idea what.

Anyway, the feeling is gone now. I hope whatever my subconscious was trying to tell me wasn't all that pressing.


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