It happens in waves

No one tells you about the loneliness. 

It doesn’t sink in slowly like honey in water, nor does it come hard and fast like a rock cast into a lake.

It comes in waves. Huge, colossal waves that loom over you for a few seconds just to create suspense, then come crashing down, making you a rag doll, tumbling in its giant hands. When it’s over it isn’t just over… loneliness takes its time with you, makes you soak in every drop of it until you wash up on dry land again, dazed and unsure of what to do with yourself.

What’s terrible about this kind of loneliness is that it comes out of nowhere. Today I was at the mall when it happened.

It’s weird, you know, I spent all morning in my room alone and enjoying every second of it. (Days off don’t come around too often). I cleaned my room, did the laundry, ate breakfast, watched a movie, read poetry, took up space all on my own and was happy. I was not lacking anything.

Around 4pm I decide it’s a good time to get some fresh air and run a few errands. I grabbed my keys, hopped on the river taxi, and headed for the mall. It didn’t even occur to me to ask anyone to join because I had been having such a great time with myself.

My first task of finding a specific shoe brush kept me busy, but as soon as my feet landed on the escalator going up, slow and steady, loneliness seized the opportunity to let me know how alone I was. I turned my attention to my phone, checking over and over again for any messages that slipped through. The disappointment in my bones when I found nothing.

Oh! I’ll call so-and-so in the states, I thought to myself, only to remember the incredible hour it was over on that side of the world. This moment of panic is that “looming” I mentioned earlier. After checking every social media platform and leaving empty the wave came crashing down mercilessly.

I am alone.

I walked around the mall like this for what seemed like ages, this thick sadness stuck to my spine. 

I got ice cream, probably the saddest thing to do alone, well, what I found out to be the saddest thing to do alone after receiving a funny look from the waitress when I told her it would just be me tonight. I guess I should mention it doesn’t help that I understand Thai and knew exactly what she was saying to her co-workers about me. The lonely girl.

It’s not like I don’t have friends, I think what I needed in that moment was more than a friend–I needed a soul mate. Please understand that I am NOT talking about a significant, romantically involved other, if we have reduced soul mates to that then I feel pity on us.

I have friends that are soul mates, unfortunately those friends live across the world. I have one friend here who’s almost like that, but between my limited Thai and her limited English it’s hard to decipher some emotional exchanges.

When the wave finally subdued and washed me unto shore I realized how much of myself I close off from people. (My counselor was the first one to realize this, but I guess today I really see it). I could have way more soul mates than I allow myself to have.

Will having more soul mates stop the great waves of loneliness? Not necessarily, but maybe it will lighten the blow of them and have me coming unto shore with new revelations.

Normalcy is the Adventure

When I first came to Thailand my entire experience was filled with adventure: riding elephants, trying new foods, hiking in burning forests, swimming in waterfalls, learning a new language, taking new and interesting forms of transportation, making friends from the other side of the world.

Of course, I came back because my heart was tethered to Thailand on the first night, before the adventure had truly even started, but I wonder if all of those crazy experiences made it a little easier to come back.

…even if that were true, it certainly isn’t true now. Normalcy is the new adventure.

I buy my groceries at Big C Ramkhamhaeng, get ice cream from the same seller outside of 7 Eleven on Saturday afternoons, pay bills, do laundry, go to the doctor, have “do nothing days” with friends in my room, have “do nothing days” by myself–life is normal besides the fact that I’m in Thailand and that is the adventure!

I’ve never been in a place long enough to where life begins to feel, well… normal.
I love it!

This morning a friend of mine asked about my recent trip to the States and how it felt to be there knowing that I had been entertaining the thought of returning due to difficulty finding a job, honestly, I felt nothing. I just knew I was coming back.

Because its home. Because its normal.

The days where I’m running errands or chilling out with a close friend are the days that feel like an adventure, the days that get my adrenaline going,

the days that mimic the feeling of riding an elephant for the very first time.

Those days are adventures, too.

Options

The end of my contract is quickly approaching which means I’m both overjoyed and overwhelmed.

Guys, I NEED TO FIND A NEW JOB.

A few weeks ago I had zero options, zero open doors, zero hope of me actually being able to stay in Thailand. I started entertaining the painful possibility of heading back to the States.

But you know what? I wasn’t really doing much.

I applied to a few international, high-end schools and became discouraged when everyone rejected me. Well, what was I thinking??? I’m a recent college graduate with, yes, a lot of experience for my age, but not nearly enough as the veterans who have been teaching for years.

As much as I wish I could make like Cinderella and have my dream job come to me overnight life just doesn’t work that way. (However, if my fairy godmother is out there you are more than welcome to intervene).

After having a talk with my mentors it became apparent to me how stagnant I was in my job search. Honestly, I figured if I had faith alone the Lord would just drop a perfectly good job in front of my doorstep. That night, after that talk with my mentors, I realized that I was being dumb: it’s far easier for God to direct a moving train than one that is parked. I needed to get this train moving!

To be honest, motivation didn’t come overnight, it took several days for me to get out of my motionless slump. Slowly but surely the wheels started to turn: I finally emailed a school that my co-worker recommended months ago (I’m now scheduled for an interview next month), contacted a recruiting agency that a friend recommended about a year ago (I’m now in the application process and they said I could be placed in a new school by June), used resources from the Teachers of Bangkok Facebook page to send in documents for application, sent in my resume to yet another school mentioned by my mentor, and recently have sent in my resume to an awesome school a different co-worker recommended to me.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but thank God for potential stones before me! Just a week ago I had nothing, now there are options.

Please keep me in prayer friends. ❤

And then we took the boat home

1. Paired my bright pink “Singapore” t-shirt with my black and white polka-dotted shorts. I felt comfortable in my skin.

2. Greeted the doorman and confidently asked him–in Thai–how to catch the bus to my destination

3. The motorcycle driver understood me and took me to the right bus stop.

4. Got on the right bus.

5. Traffic was awful, but thankfully I recognized the area and got off the bus to take the boat the rest of the way.

6. Got on the boat and did not die.

7. My friend and I enjoyed shopping together.

8. The lady at the food court complimented my Thai and said I was cute.

9. Practiced Thai with my friend without feeling too self-conscious.

10. Ate kuay tiaw tom yum and it was delicious.

11. Took the boat successfully back home.

12. Played with a little baby girl on the boat.

13. Got off the boat and did not die.

14. Wrote a poem.

15. All of these things were done without anger, self-doubt, or overwhelming anxiety coursing through my veins.

It’s been a good day despite the marathons of bad ones I’ve been having recently.

🙂

Wanting Happiness

I used to mock the people who would request nothing but happiness from life.

Life is more than happiness, I’d retort.

But now I get it. I get the ache in my stomach at 4 o’clock in the morning, I taste the subtle bitterness in every inhale, notice how the sun, even on its brightest days, still looks dull.

I can’t mock the hunger for happiness anymore because it now eats away at me, bit by bit, from the inside out.

Currently, I work at an awful school, and I know what you’re thinking right now it could be worse, but for one moment how about we put away the Scale of Agony, because, yes, of course things could always be worse but that doesn’t necessarily make things better.

Usually I’m fragile with hate, only bringing it out for such evils as, racism, rape, senseless murder. However, it only took 8 months of chewing all of the nonsense here to finally spit it out: I hate this school.

Working here has sucked out all of the color of life overseas in this beautiful country, a country I begged God to come back to. Now I find myself more willing to leave than to work another day here. The students kept me afloat for a while, but now not even their smiles makes this dump worth it.

  1. I don’t like the administration and it’s scandalous acts.
  2. I don’t understand my students, especially not my homeroom.
  3. I don’t find joy in the subject I’m teaching. Like, at all. (Admin stuck me with a subject I never even applied for).

WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING HERE?

I’ll admit, I hastily agreed to taking this job. I came to Thailand originally as a volunteer teacher–I loved what I did. Total fulfillment–but when funds started to run out I guess I panicked. I wanted a job in the future, of course, that was my end goal, but I think I just took the crummy, alcoholic womanizer of schools instead of waiting for the special one.

(Okay, maybe that metaphor was weird, but you get me, right?)

It’s not at all about work itself, I love teaching… when it’s a subject that I actually enjoy and have experience in. I can handle hard work if there is fulfillment. Let me make myself clear, there is NO fulfillment here.

I’ve decided I cannot go another day over what I agreed to on my contract; I’m not going to return after May. I have another job lined up, but it’s only for the summer. Also, since I’m not going to re-sign the contract I will lose my visa.

I’m lost.

I need direction from the Lord because I know I’m not going to be in the center of His will if I just make a hasty decision out of fear again.

I just want happiness
like
that thing I felt
tingling around my
lips
when they curved
upwards,
a set of raised palms
thanking God
for
such
a
blessing.

IMG_4721

Open

IMG_4716i’m opening myself up
to love
all of its
hiccups
frustrations
wooing
and falling
falling
falling
slowly
into soft arms,
warm kisses,
a heart
saved
just
for
me

IMG_4703i’m opening myself up
to all wild
imaginations
fascinations
incantations
for ‘the one’
because i know
he exists
whether or not i find him
he exists

IMG_4720i’m opening myself up
to love
because it does not
have to be a curse.
my ancestry is not
the soil
our love needs
to grow in

Sorry.

I wish I had someone, a brother, a sister, dazzling in melanin, to carry the weight with me.

Upset, I sent a message to a friend to blow off steam:

Sometimes the T— can be so simple-minded, rude, and racist.

Surprise. The Land of Smiles isn’t always so kind. Unfortunately, the poison of the past still trickles down to HERE, NOW, this existence I am in.

 
We are connected. Never first hand felt the pains of slavery, but the sun, unrelenting, singes a fire underneath my skin– a flashback every time I come out of my house. The electric SNAP! Then the hottest sting on back when someone calls me farang* because the sound rolls off their tongue a little differently with me; I’ve heard them say it to my pale friends, and it always sounds like a new word entirely. Seasickness crawls itself out of my stomach when I try my hardest, my absolute hardest, to make my voice as small as my fist so that they do not run away when I ask for directions. When I hear my voice come out louder than wanted I quickly swallow it, like how I swallow my frustrations that others don’t want to hear. don’t believe. don’t understand. 

I’m in the bookstore just trying to buy a blasted book, minding my own blasted business, when he comes. Presence like the sun, tongue like that snap, and I feel the wooden floor boards start to roll under my feet, the smell of salt water threatening to pour out of me.

I’m sick. Of this.

And I wonder if they’re so quick to avert their eyes, their mouths, their frightened faces when I look back at them, acknowledge their presence and that mine isn’t any different. I wonder if at that moment they see the flicker of my ancestors ranging in my stare, and realize that bitter, rancid taste now wrestling in their mouth is something they should’ve swallowed years ago–guilt.

When too much time passes between ‘person’ and ‘sorry,’ SORRY has an unforgivable way of rotting.

When my friend responds “sorry” I know she means it with the utmost love and respect, but I can’t help but to spit it out. It’s been sitting out in the sun for too long.

I wish I had a brother or sister, dazzling in melanin, to help me carry this kind of weight, this heavy history, dressed in soft flesh.

Someone who knows the weight of sorry.

*foreigner

He Likes Me. Not.

Laughter is the best medicine, so let’s laugh at my crazy, hopelessly romantic, thinking-waaaay-too-much butt together.

So, as all dumb stories start out, I have this friend… this guy friend, who has quickly, as of today, turned into another blemish on my terribly embarrassing, non-existing love life.

It all started several months back when I agreed to give him my IM information because he claimed to be gay. Let me explain. He kind of creeped me out at first because he always asked where I lived, then when he finally found out said information he let me know, with, might I add, too much enthusiasm. I was not going to give my IM info to a kind of creepy, borderline stalker, straight man. But as soon as he said he was gay it was like a guest free pass to friendship!

I don’t understand my ways either.

Anyway, we would often text about a plethora of things: English questions, life questions, faith questions, etc. Until one day he asked me the strangest question of all, a question pertaining to women.

“But I’m confused… I thought you were gay.”
“What? No! I was only joking.”

Code red! False gay! This is NOT a drill.

3 Things came to mind.
1.) Who lies about being gay?
2.) What if he’s lying about not being gay.
3.) OMG. Maybe he actually is crazy!

Weeks go on and surprisingly we’re still friends, although now I’m way more suspicious of everything he says and does. Like, when he asked if I was home, I’d lie. When he asked where I was going for vacation, I’d lie. When he asked what I did for the day, I’d half lie.

Our whole friendship was building on an IM chat of lies. lies. lies.

3

Months pass of the lying, but during Christmas break the glittering lights and sparkling trees must have gotten to my head… I started to trust him. I stopped lying, well, I lied less. I realized that I did have a friend in this gay/maybe not gay guy. So, one day I invited him to the movies. Just as friends. We ended up not going. I left late and he was still stuck where he was. Perhaps all that was for the better.

On my walk back to my home I sent him an IM apologizing for the day.

Then I sent the emoji that made our whole friendship dynamic even stranger.
I sent a bald-headed, smile-faced character holding a heart.

He took it too seriously.

2

My whole body turned into red heat.

We were only supposed to be friends–my first healthy functioning, opposite sex friendship. *sigh*

Everything got worse. More weeks went by and in the empty spaces of my mind he would pop up. Often. Images of him and his smile occupied idleness. Kami, pull it together. He’s potentially creepy and he’s not even a believer. All of my arguments failed. I always had a rebuttal.

Can you blame me? He would send messages like this after meeting outside:

1

In the end, my stupid, hopelessly romantic heart won and I started falling for this lunatic. One night me and my clumsy fingers decided to send a message asking why Thai men don’t go for brown women. Yeah, I actually asked that… *eye roll*

I’ll spare the details, basically it was incredibly embarrassing and incredibly obvious what I meant by my inquisition.

He stopped texting me for weeks.

Whatever, I felt relieved that at least I pushed him so far away that I didn’t need to welcome anymore possibilities into my heart, that soft and silly thing.

When I finally stopped counting the days of no contact and forgotten the features of his face, a little jingle goes off on my phone–it’s him.

We pick up messaging again as if distance wasn’t just awkwardly sitting between us, fiddling its thumbs, for weeks.

The following day he starts asking me questions about how to flirt with American girls.

-Be nice to her
-Open the door for her
-Tell her she looks nice today
-Don’t be a stalker (I had to explain what that meant. See photo #1, he had no idea)
-Never force her
-Be her friend first
-Ask her on a proper date

He thanked me and I suppose went on about his day using his newfound wisdom.

A few days later I bump into him outside; it had been a while since we’ve seen each other in the flesh, especially with my new teaching and Thai learning schedule. It was totally frightening for me. He looked just a nice as I remembered. (Cut me some slack, I’m hopelessly romantic. Remember?) I talked as normally as I could, moments of eye contact, but not too much, carrying an air of nonchalance in my voice, interested, but not too interested. Those ten minutes felt like centuries, and when the lady preparing my order had to go find change I kicked myself for being hungry at that exact moment. She came back with the change, I practically rip it out of thin air, and booked it to my room after giving a decent enough goodbye.

Returning to my room, I wanted to text him, give him a good reason for my mad dash home, but I decided against it. I was not going to text him first. A few minutes of self-control and the loudest jingle blares out of my phone–it’s him.

We talk some about our day, I admit that I was shy and that’s why I ran home, he starts going off about working out and his muscles, of which I tell him I’m bored of hearing about. Normal conversation. Then, he goes into what seems like all of the advice I gave him for flirting with American women.

He sort of asks me out, albeit with his friends.
He makes it a point to call me “friend”, and since that day on has messaged me every day like a nice friend would.

**This is a side note, hence it’s position to the side, but during one of our conversations he asked about American women saying “I love you” and if it means anything. I connected that to the heart I sent him when we missed our movie hangout.

4

It all sounds like friendship, but then I get these messages and my stomach starts having washing machine syndrome.

56

Now my mind has no empty spaces to play in idleness because he is taking up all of the space. Again. Does he really like me? Why? I know I’m beautiful and smart and funny. Duh. But, really? Me?

I hesitate to tell my friends, fearing harsh judgement, or worse, maybe they would encourage me on in the madness.

Days are passing and all of our history keeps whizzing through my head, memories we had not even made yet. I know myself. I know I can make galaxies out of a string of thought, so I muster up the courage and ask him a strange question, probably the last strange question we will ever share.

78910

The house of us that I had constructed out of ambiguous IMs and nothing melted under the heat of my cheeks–total and complete embarrassment.

Well, at least I know now, and now I have a pretty funny story to tell about the time I liked a maybe gay, possibly stalker, Thai man.
Let’s all laugh together!

***

*PS:  Yes, I know, his English was not the best. Once again, I’m a hopeless romantic willing to push through barriers for “love”–even language. 

 

Culture Shock

My friend and I were chatting by the canal over coffee and sweets about the differences between our hometowns and this city.

We both shared our concern with not knowing our neighbors; how it feels like you’re alone, even though surrounded by thousands of people; how we’d be out of luck if something were ever to happen to us outside; how the city isn’t always so helpful or welcoming.

What I found interesting about this exchange of concerns is that my friend, the one sitting across from me with her cold chocolate beverage, was Thai.

Call it ignorance, but I had no idea she shared this same tension with living in the city. I had no idea she could experience culture shock within her own country.

I’ve heard students and other friends comment on how much they miss their hometown and how different it is, but I think that was the first time I’ve ever mauled it over thoroughly with another.

Although difficult, it was comforting to hear:

I’m not alone, and yeah, living in the city, any city, can be difficult at times, but somewhere in the masses there is a connection to be made, another foreign soul looking for a friend, looking for open doors in a kind smile.

Looking for a place
to call home.

img_5307

Men & Flowers

i want more ‘men’
with flowers falling from their
skin.
more water in their eyes.
more tremble in their bodies.
more women in their hearts
than
on their hands.
more softness in their height.
more honesty in their voice.
more wonder.
more humility in their feet.

-less
Nayyirah Waheed

img_5319

Masculinity: today was my student and I’s second time discussing this topic.

He is an effeminate, beautiful, bright boy, but, unfortunately, the only description of him that gets attention is before his beauty. He is constantly teased by his friends about his feminine ways.

They call him gay,
letting each letter borrow deep into his self-esteem like a snake making its home. (even if he was, why should this be an insult?)

My beautiful, bright, effeminate boy had a difficult life growing up, one I’m not comfortable in sharing, basically the way he swings his hips and breaks his wrist is a product of his past.

(I wonder if his classmates even know…)

“I feel like I put on a mask, Ms. Kami. I don’t feel like my true self,” he opened up to me.

I shattered.
Yet, it didn’t stop there.

He continued, “I’m weak and emotional. I saw something on the internet that said men should not show emotion.”

Gosh, I freaking despise the internet, how it has our young ones suckling at its toxic breast. Our Tiny Futures are eating that garbage up, and if we don’t say anything then we’re practically giving them a spoon–graduating the insanity.

Please tell me we’ve matured as humankind to see that heavily guarded gender roles have the potential to feel like prisons.

Am I saying gender roles are inherently evil? No, but let us be careful of how much influence they have in governing lives; allow room for exceptions.

By the way, the belief that men should be more stoic–less flesh, more bone–is outrageous and should NOT, by any means, be included as a trait under the role of male.

Anyway, we had a lovely talk about real friends; Jesus, a man, THE man, and how he wept; also, David, his harp, his sheep, and his weakness that still was able to defeat a giant.

He’s such a spectacular boy–a born leader without having to manipulate anyone or hide his heart. I just wish he saw what I see each day instead of what the media wants him to see.

For the love of beautiful, bright, effeminate boys wanting so badly to be men, please, allow room for them to grow into masculinity that’s stronger than a flimsy plastic mask.

We’re so quick to give our little boys rocks,
what if some of them just want to hold flowers?

Is that okay?

Can our boys be delicate, too?