Morning. Birdsong all around. Roosters in the distance.
I want to give you thanks from my heart , for hearing me, for receiving my words in whatever way they reach you. I'm putting the hurt I felt from unkind words behind me now. I'll just dump it in a large field and let the cows graze nearby, climb on my scooter and drive away. It's hard, you know, when words are dire for you and your family, letting you know you're messing everything up. You wonder. Am I? You dwell there for a while. And then you snap out of it. I don't live there. I refuse to.
Last night I looked up from my saddened shuffle around the kitchen, where I was washing dishes and clearing up after dinner. Some spark had entered my dull brain. Isn't exercise supposed to be good for depression? I thought. I've heard rumors. So I left. I put my running shoes on for the first time in years. Socks felt weird on my normally bare toes. I remembered my iPod at the last minute and walked down our soi, wondering which way to turn.
The music helped. Sometimes a terrible part of social anxiety for me is that disapproving voices loop in my head, an old, broken record. A corrupted file.
I started with Arcade Fire's Funeral, which is what I listened to for weeks in Goa, barreling through the jungle on my scooter. Of course the songs bring me back there, which is both good and bad. Because here's a confession: I'm homesick. And it's to be expected, especially from me. I've never made a move without being homesick, without a strange transition time where my arms and legs don't seem to work properly.
We're so absolutely blown away by how wonderful and right this place feels for us. That's without question. So what's the problem, when I'm driving here or walking along in the dark? Only that it's not Indian enough here. There is some smoky, scarlet colored, ancient quality that is missing. Here will never be there.
I need to get acquainted with here. I walked and walked. Walking at night is so nice in Thailand, with night blooming fragrant flowers and clouds racing across the moon. I realized at one point that I was pretty close to Vieng Nuer, a nearby village, and that I could make a huge loop back to Pai if I just kept walking. On I went, through fields planted with unknown vegetables, waving their leaves at me in the darkness. And on, and on. I remembered the cobra we had seen the day before, out with new friends, and turned the tiny light on my phone on, to better see my feet.
At one point a woman pulled up beside me on her motorbike. "Pai nai?" she asked. Where are you going? I didn't have the Thai words to reply. "Just walking," I said, pumping my arms in a parody of speedwalking, so she would understand I was out for exercise. She patted the back of her bike seat. I thanked her, tried again, pointing at my white running shoes. Would I be wearing these ridiculous shoes if I wasn't trying to walk the funk out of my bent shoulders? I thanked her again. She drove off.
The moon was beautiful with the clouds covering and uncovering it swiftly. It was truly a long way, one of those things that is an impulse but that turns out to be the best thing, as I walked, and walked, and listened to the rhythm of my breath, and walked. Something shifted as I walked. Something I've been thinking about the wrong way. There was a click. I held my head a little higher.
I walked about three miles, got home, kissed my kids, showered, slept like a stone. This morning, when I woke up, I actually felt like getting out of bed. I wanted to see what would happen with the day. It felt good. I think I'm going to be covering more miles, in the days and weeks to come.
On Canada Day, we had a beautiful family show up on our doorstep, friends of my dear friend Rebeca. They were in Pai for just a day, and had learned that we live here. They wondered if we wanted a meetup. We did. They're a traveling family, homeschooling as they travel the world.
And then I discovered that Jenn, the mother (and writer) of the family, is Canadian. God literally dropped a Canadian out of the sky for us on Canada Day. It was going to be a good day, we could tell. Their children came striding up, as tall as mountains, as their youngest is ten and oldest is nearly sixteen. Tall people!
Have I mentioned how I adore teenagers? They seem as sweet and radiant as three-year-olds to me. Three-year-olds are entering the world of kids, teenagers are half in and half out of the world of adults, and they shine with it, with their personalities. Hannah and Gabriel were no different, they were some of the loveliest teenagers I've ever met. A little shy, but talkative, generous and well-spoken. Leafy adored Gabriel, the fourteen-year-old. "Whatever car you're going in, that's what I'm going in," he declared. And the other kids were wonderful, too.
After we ate lunch and discovered each other a little, we came up with a plan. First, to pick up Hannah's mandolin so she and Chinua could play music, then the waterfall, then the hotspring pool. We got in their car and our bike and sidecar to head to the waterfall. Chinua's bike overheated on the way. We had to take a few more of the long-legged children to make up for the weight overload in the sidecar.
(Yes! That IS Superman climbing the rocks in his cape.)
The waterfall was beautiful as always, and the kids (except the littlest two) swam in the high rock pool. I didn't climb up- heights are not great for me at any time, and my balance is off now, with my rounding belly. Then we were off to the pool for some swimming, and Chinua gave Hannah a mandolin lesson, which they both loved.
It was simply a beautiful day, filled with conversation and meaning, sharing experience and getting each other right away. I loved hearing from Jenn about her experiences with travel and homeschooling. She and Tony are a gracious, fun-loving couple. It was a treat to spend the day with them.
In the night we set off some firecrackers that Tony bought for Jenn for Canada Day. They turned out to be much more explosive and loud than we were expecting, and the evening culminated in flashing lights as the police arrived. Someone thought a shooting was happening, I guess. The police were lovely and friendly, the one who spoke English cracking jokes. We told him we were studying Thai. "Thai is very easy," he pronounced, deadpan. "Yes, very easy.... for me!" His smile lit his face, and he jumped back in his truck. They all drove away and we headed home as well, done with trouble making for the evening.
Things to do when hit with depression: (an on-going list.)
Walk for a long, long time.
Make plans with people and keep them. (This one is hard.)
Listen to music.