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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Locusts and such

Every day in class, we learn with the large windows wide open.  We can hear the birds and insects and the incessant barking dogs (it sounds like wrestle mania for dogs on a daily basis).  And inevitably, the locusts fly into the room.  They fly all around and then settle on the ledge at the bottom of the window - flipped upside down with their legs flailing in the air - wings buzzing erratically.  I can imagine that they lie there looking out at the world, just wanting to flip over and go.  Much like the locusts, for too long I have been on my back looking at the world just wanting to go.  I have finally flipped over.

I managed to just introduce myself to a stranger completely on my own.  Her name is Nicole and she is in the room next to ours.  She is a yoga teacher from Australia, and is here studying Thai massage.  She has been here for three months already and is about to head home to her little island resort where she teaches.  I was hungry for some new companionship, so I just decided to knock on her door and introduce myself.  I guess I was lonely for home and wanted to chat with someone completely on their own - to find out how to deal with the solitude.  She and I walked down to one of the many local (tiny) restaurants where the Pad Thai is outstanding.  We had a couple of beers and chatted about her life in Australia and mine in the U.S.  We are the same age, and have sisters the same age and had so much in common.  I loved listening to her lilting accent and the way she phrased her words.  She was excellent company and spoke wonderful Thai.  She gave me lots of tips about Chiang Mai and encouraged me to travel solo (her favorite way to go).  At the end of the evening, we hugged goodbye and I thanked her for sharing some time with me.  I will probably never see her again, but I relished her company and her experience out in the world.

There is much that I have learned about myself here. There is much that I am still learning.  I have had my patience and sense of independence tested.  I have lost parts of myself and found parts of myself.  I have let go of a lot - but the more I let go, the further I go back into the past.  It's like peeling away layers of an onion.  I have discovered hidden parts of me, that have been deep inside for a long, long time.

This process of being out in the world is difficult.  It tests the very limits of my self.  I tear myself down and build myself back up again and again, each time becoming stronger and more self aware.  Like my body changing with the massage, my soul has changed - become more flexible and less rigid.  It is becoming comfortable with the unfamiliar, at home with the unknown..

Lunch today was at a vegetarian Thai restaurant.  The whole class went, and enjoyed the buffet.  I tasted flavors I have never tasted before (butterfly tea made from a flower that changes color when you add syrup to it - blue to purple - so beautiful).  We opened up to each other and Mint (our teacher) joked with us and teased us.  We are her most fun and laziest class so far - in the afternoons it is so hot, it is impossible to concentrate and work.  It was a wonderful break from the day's work.  The area we ate in was uber trendy.  It reminded me of Portland in some of the areas where the hipsters hang out.  Lots of wine bars, Tapas restaurants, Bistros, and a restaurant devoted just to Salad.  I asked Mint how much it cost to live in the area - "A loft condo in this area is very expensive.  10,000 - 12,000 Baht a month", she said.  That's roughly $330 - $390 U.S. dollars.  Are you kidding?  I guess it's all relative.  I was impressed and will revisit the area tomorrow for an iced coffee and a manicure/pedicure combo that will cost me about $8.00.  Not too shabby.

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