I haven’t posted in a long time, and unfortunately I can’t put pictures in this post because I bought a new phone, and long story short, can’t access my photos at the moment. However, I still have things I want to share.
Good days, perfect days, aren’t always exciting. Sometimes it’s the small moments, the details, of daily life in another country, that are the most exhilarating. I’ve been having a lot of good days of late, albeit lazy ones given that I’m on break from school yet again while my class takes more exams. On Tuesday, I slept in, watched Breaking Bad, and painted for a few hours. Then I rode my bike to 7-11, despite a nasty flat tire, and bought lunch. There’s nothing more satisfying than picking out a selection of Asian junk food, spending 114 baht, and remembering that that’s around 3$. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, bright blue sky, and I got to ride past the elementary school nest to my house. The elementary school is one of the best features of my 7-11 route; like most Thai schools, it’s walled and exclusive looking, and in this case always filled with adorable, laughing Thai kids in crisp red and white uniforms. If you’re wondering what the cutest kid in the world looks like, I can assure you that it’s a five year old Thai boy wearing red shorts and a white shirt with a matching red necktie of some sort. Every time I ride past, little kids shout at me, saying the few words of English they know. When I say hello to them, they shriek with delight.
That evening, I went to the night market across the river with my host sister’s friend. Riding on the back of a motorcycle, even for about five minutes, is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. You can’t be sad on the back of a motorcycle. Seriously, everyone should own them. In America, the motorcycle is an old biker dude thing, or, in the case of the moped, a young childless person thing; in Thailand, however, it is a family vehicle. Nearly everyone has one. They aren’t huge, pretentious Harleys. In fact, even the ones capable of going as fast as a car look about the same as a moped. You can fit four people on one…five or six if at least two of those are babies or toddlers. And they’re really fun. Cars take all the joy out of travel. A motorcycle is the closest thing to flying. No matter how many times I get my hair whipped into dreadlocks going 80 kmph over the river, the elation never fades.
We bought rice soup, the Thai name of which I can’t remember, and cold pressed juice made of apples, carrots, beets, pineapple, and guava.
Even when I’m on break from school, being lazy, and being unproductive, I am continually surprised by how in love with Thailand I am. Every moment that I spend interacting with this country, going to markets, riding on motorcycles, every incredible sunset, the vibrant flowers growing all over the place, the sparkling Ping river dotted with fishermen in the morning, reminds me what a wonderful world I live in. Nowhere on earth is perfect, but every place is different. The differences remind you that what seems normal is only one version of reality, and that every different place has something yours doesn’t.
Thailand doesn’t have snow. It doesn’t have four seasons, or good pizza, or ovens. It doesn’t have Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or the vast space of America. It doesn’t have my birth family or many of my friends. There aren’t liberal arts colleges here, or giant refrigerators, or crazy parties. But America doesn’t have Thailand’s sunsets. Or markets. Motorcycles, street food, 7-11s on every corner, rice fields, beaches, palm trees heavy with coconuts. Smiles, kindness. My Thai friends, my Thai family. In America, I would never see an elephant crossing sign on the side of the highway. Or watch dozens of monkeys climb onto the head of an Italian tourist. America doesn’t have the beautiful Thai alphabet, or the incredible food. America doesn’t have real pineapple.
I love America. But as the halfway mark of my exchange gets closer, all I can think about is how it will break my heart to leave this country. When will I ever have the money to visit? I don’t know. All I know is that when the time comes to leave, I will be losing an entire life, and it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.