I’ve been needing to practice telling a story of events, things that actually happened and aren’t completely in my head, These might be mostly in my head but its my attempt at remembering three things that happened and telling them as a miniature story. I hope its enjoyable to read.
“Soup?” She asked after I stared a little long at her cart. It was built on a motorbike so she could take it anywhere. This morning she had it stationed so all the party-all-nighters still drunk after the excessive push for morning and the few early risers that missed the nightlife could enjoy a cheaper breakfast from the monopolies that raise their prices depending on the time of year. I smiled and asked for pork soup, she started gathering the pieces but it became apparent that she didn’t understand what I wanted. She only understood that I wanted something to eat and since she only had two choices (chicken or pork soup) she just pointed and I shook my head for yes. I could tell that she wasn’t excited about my white skin and I didn’t blame her for Patong beach was full of people that looked just like me. Most of them used the town and people in it like it was only useful if they could use it. This soup lady probably had a hundred westerners a day ask for food like she was the uneducated one for not understanding their language. Its part of being on the other end of that kind of tourism but it must become very stale for the men and women that must make a living somehow and the town their were born in makes one option easier than most other ways.
I used the few words of Thai I’ve gathered in the last two weeks, I can’t communicate well but I wanted her to know I’m trying. She smiled when I was able to say a few words other than thank you in Thai, that was all I hoped for.
As I ate the bowl of soup, I wondered how she could make something so delicious day after day for people who couldn’t even thank her in her own language. I decided she must have a special kind of endurance.
I laughed to myself as I stepped onto the boat I had booked that morning, I could see why it would take twice as long as the boat that took me to the island. It was packed with people, all of them fitted into their places such that it took me a few minutes to realize there was order. Numbers above each small bed 30,31, 32. I found my two by six place in the herd, I had very luckily been placed right next to the wall. Most people were trying to read or curl up for some sleep. The electrical system made both these difficult since the lights would only light up when the engine revved. It gave me a sense of adventure to realize I would be on this boat for eight hours with all these fellow travelers, there are some journeys that are too easy to feel like an adventure and there are some journeys that form bonds between strangers faster than few things in life. This wasn’t kind either, but it was enough for me to know the short story of the people next to me in the first few minutes. I would guess that there were few other backpackers as excited as I was to be able to see the stars out the open windows or feel the slow swaying of the boat as it moved into open water. I live for the journey that validates itself, this for me made the destination irrelevant. I was moving forward on the merit of it being a new experience, even if I had already been to my destination a few days earlier.
I tried to keep awake so I could watch the stars become brighter as the light pollution waned with more distance from shore. Some time later I fell asleep curled with my face against the wall as to keep my eyes away from the lights that were still changing brightness from the engines output. It was easy to fall asleep thankful on a night where I could see the stars better than I had seen them in months.
I take in a deep breath, looking right and than left one last time, I step out into the middle of the street as I exhale slowly. A car and four motorbikes zip past me, I see the next gap and step forward again as I finish exhaling. once my feet are on the other side I resume breathing normally.
I’m afraid of crossing the street. I’ve always been afraid of cars but since I was hit by one nearly two years ago that fear became more real to me. I could feel how easily my life could have slipped through my fingers. When I was very young I adopted the practice of accepting that I would die every time I was afraid while riding in a car, somehow my 7 year old self could hold the idea of his own death. He not only was able to think about it but it gave comfort to him to be less attached to being alive, it actually made life better to be less attached to how life went. It is logical to know that none of us have complete control over our lives or deaths but so many people seem to push that idea of death away in favor of a more carefree existence. Sometimes I wonder how any 7 year old could be so weirdly rational.
I wish I knew how my 7 year old self would have handled it but for my 22 year old self crossing the street in Thailand takes a bit of courage and a couple deep breathes. Sometimes it takes more than a couple.