Almost everyday in Nakhon Sawan it rains, and it rains harder than anywhere I have ever experienced. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, it will go from sunny and hot to dark and dumping rain. After the rain clears the city glistens with little beads of water clinging to everything it can. Water continues to drip from all the rooftops and the air has a fresh wet smell to it. I love our afternoon storms, and being caught in one on my way home from work left me soaking wet (even with an umbrella), but I didn’t mind at all. The air is warm, the water is warm, and the pressure pushing down on my umbrella reminds me of just how helpless we truly are against the elements.
The sky before the storm.
Yesterday I woke up before 7 am, showered, grabbed some fruit for breakfast from a street vendor, and made my way toward one of the temples in Nakhon Sawan. Why so early, you ask. By noon it is unbearably hot to be outside, and by three in the afternoon the rain clouds approach, ready to release the floods. If you want to do anything active in Thailand, you need to do it first thing in the morning or in the evening, if it isn’t raining.
The temple sits on one of the mountains nearby, and overlooks the entire city. To reach it you must climb almost 500 stairs which are built at an incredibly steep incline.
A view over looking the park and lake across from my home
By far, the greatest flight of stairs I have ever climbed.
Last Thursday I departed on a last minute trip to San Francisco. Two of my close friends were driving up for Outside Lands, and I decided to ride up with them to spend a much needed visit with one of my best friends from college. We hadn’t seen one another since April, and this friend was someone I had spent almost every day with my last year at Santa Cruz. There was no way I could leave to Thailand without one last weekend in his company. So, how to sum up Thursday through Monday….?
Left town around ten-ish Thursday night. First stop- alcohol. Sitting in the back seat with a Four Loko while me and my friend passed the ipod back and forth. DJs taking turns makes for an interesting playlist. Dubstep to Ludacris. As we both made progress on our drinks the car ride got sillier, while our driver, of course, remained sober. Drove until we had to eat. Stopped for pizza sometime around midnight and ate an extra meaty pizza. Wrecked our stomachs. Only guests in the pizza place. Totally creepy. Drove for about another hour until our driver had to sleep, so we parked and passed out in a hotel parking lot. Hot air and a car full of limbs sticking out the windows just to cool down. Two of us slept with sunglasses on to keep the street lights out of our eyes. I thought it was clever, but our other friend laughed at us. Sleeping behind a steering wheel is not the best night of sleep.
With a few hours of sleep, we were on the road again. Driving under the rising sun that would make the Central California drive miserable. If, it weren’t for AC. Stopped again a few hours later so our driver could take another nap.
That time my friend and I played in the parking lot and entertained ourselves. I sat on the curb and wrote as he sat on the ledge of the trunk and played guitar. He skateboarded, I scootered. We wandered through a Pea Soup Andersons giant tacky gift shop. And I used a restroom that was decorated with more fairy statues that I have ever encountered. Literally, an army of them.
Once we could no longer fight impatience to go, we woke up our driver, who said we were making too much noise for him to really even sleep.
We stopped to get lunch in a town where everyone goes to get drunk or die. I am not kidding. It was either a hospital, or a bar. There was even a dive bar across from the hospital called The Waiting Room. My friend couldn’t find a bathroom so he peed in the corner or its wall. After that last stop we were off to San Francisco.
We got to my college friend’s house and dropped off all of our stuff and then drove into the city. From there I split ways with the boys so they could go to the show, while I killed time to meet up with my friend. I wandered the city until he got off work, admiring fountains, stopping for coffee, and walking the water front. I met him in his office, which was 36 stories up, and had a view of the Bay. His big boy job. We went out for drinks and tacos and caught up on months worth of events in one another’s lives.
Nothing better than sitting across the table from one of your best friends and seeing their face as you talk to them, while being so appreciative of them in your life. Friendships that will stand the test of time will be the greatest gifts in life.
After drinks, sneaking on metro, back to his house, meeting housemates, drinking beers, getting fresh, off to a night out, more sneaking on metros, hopping around in the Mission District, meeting people and having instant connections, sneaking off together and sitting on the stairs of row houses giggling and talking, meeting up with more friends from college, off to more bars, all cramming in one car, back to the house, partying on the roof, over looking the city, rows and rows of houses and lights, passing out.
The next day we all woke up a little worn out from the night before, and decided at noon to get some breakfast. We took the bart back into the city and spent the afternoon in the Mission.
Bloody Marys- essential, diner lunch, Goodwill shopping, more Bloody Marys, Dolores Park, laying in the sun, hippy hill, surrounded by more people I have ever seen just hanging out in a park, people walking by selling drugs, selling alcohol, selling whatever it is that got you high got you low, wherever you needed your mind or body to go, people in hula hoops, people practicing for fire spinning, minus the fire, people playing sports, all different kinds of music playing, all different kinds of people, some dancing, some sitting, some sprawled in the grass like me, drank our beers as we joined a three man baseball game, hit a home run, returned back to our spot and layed under the sun with the group I was with, ended the day with a Chinese food dinner. Passed Out.
Sunday was my last full day in the city, so I wanted to explore a little more than the Mission. I have been to San Francisco so many times that I was surprised that the Mission was really the only place I had never been to in the city. We took the bart into Chinatown and climbed the hilly streets. In and out of shops, looking at weird things, smelling weird smells, buying pounds and pounds of gogi berries and taking pictures with people in dragon costumes. Chinatown was my last bit of American Asian influence in my life before I move to Asia. After Chinatown we ended up in City Lights bookstore and I could not put down the most amazing book I have ever found. Every picture and every word explained things that I have felt before and the exact way I think. It was eerie looking at a book that I felt I could have written. I will buy it, when I have money again.
After City Lights, Vesuvius Café next door. More wandering led us to Dolores Park again, but today it was just the two of us. More catching up and sun basking. Back to the house to relax and then off to Golden Gate park for a game of glow in the dark ultimate Frisbee.
BUT WAIT, I FORGOT SOMETHING.
This is kind of a big thing, well for me at least. I went on my first real motor cycle ride, through the streets of San Francisco, in the evening, where fog was beginning to wrap itself around everything. It was one of the most exhilarating feelings I have ever had, as well as one of the most magical. It never occurred to me how much I would enjoy riding on a bike, even if just on the back. The feeling of the cold bay air on face, just that one band of unprotected skin across the front where the helmet didn’t cover. The way the bike leaned and so did our bodies. The vulnerability that you feel, unprotected, racing down streets, with only the sound of air rushing past you. I fell in love.
Glow in the dark Frisbee was so much fun, and the park was so thick with fog it was amazing we even could see the glow sticks. Mine were green. I wore them on both wrists and as a head band. After the game I went back to the house to cook dinner with the boys, and we had the most amazing meal I could have asked for. A whole baked chicken, lemon tossed kale salad, sautéed potatoes, quinoa, and bacon wrapped shrimp. Wine and Cheese. Delicious. Watched films made my friends as we ate dinner, and laughed until our stomachs hurt.
Check out- Scare Cabin of Uncle II.
The next morning I was back on the road again with my two home town friends, and was sad to say goodbye to my San Francisco pal and the city. As soon as Thailand is finished and I am done traveling to wherever else I end up, I am moving to San Francisco. It is the final destination. It’s such a unique city with so much life and spice and flavor. I want to call it home. I will call it home.
“It’s hard to stay mad when there is so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much- my heart fills up like a balloon that is about to burst. And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude, for every single moment of my stupid little life.”
With a little over a week to go until I move to Thailand the inevitable task of packing for a year away has begun. Well, it’s about to begin. I’m thinking about it beginning.
Ok, doing this.
During a car ride this morning one of my best friends and I discussed the L word. You know the one. We discussed falling in and out of it, and the pain and joy it brings. The way it can collide two worlds, only to one day be replaced by a necessary distance.
The most difficult thing I’ve had to come to terms with recently is letting the one I loved go. More than that, I have had to find it in my own heart to know that someone else makes him happy now, and thats ok. That if I really ever loved him then his happiness is also mine. To actually feel this way, rather than just telling myself I feel this way, has been a challenge for my own heart.
Being in love and making a relationship work is tricky, because we all define it differently. For me, loving someone has always meant unconditional forgiveness. There is nothing that I can’t look past or work through when I love someone. My friend described her idea of love as unconditional selflessness. That she always puts the other before her, even if it means huge compromises on her behalf, where she struggles and he gains. I’m discovering that maybe the only way a relationship can work long term, is when both people have a similar idea of what love is, and how you treat the person you love.
Finally being single and having my life back to myself is a breath of fresh air. There is a rediscovering to be done, and a lot of time for self improvement. It’s nice to feel my identity apart from him reemerging, and to find myself thinking differently than I have in years. The gears are turning to a different rhythm. My heart is beating in a new pattern. For the first time in a very very long time my happiness is completely dependent upon myself and that is the most liberating feeling. I am living for me, and pursing what I want in life, with no restraints.
Recently, I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that words will fail me. That I won’t always be able to tell someone how my heart feels. That sometimes the unobtainable is just that. An acceptance of missed timing in crossed paths. A letting go of imagined what ifs. But even then, there is beauty in missed opportunities. There is a space for a different type of relationship to blossom.