My second visa run to Bangkok is completed. I am officially in the second half of this amazing journey abroad. My spirits oscillate wildly between being excited at the journey left ahead, only to plunge into self doubt on whether or not I can complete it. In my heart of hearts I know I can do it and I will find a way, but it’s not been easy.
The human body is amazing. My shoulder, knee, and hip were all torn to bits with bits of Vietnamese highway in them just 18 days ago. Today, the scabs are gone and just scars and a heroic story about how I sacrificed myself to save a puppy remains. My ankle is still an open wound, but I visited the best hospital in Bangkok over the weekend. Conversing with a doctor who was completely fluent in English and could answer all of my neurotic hypochondriac questions after having a Vietnamese Doctor refer to my toes as fingers for two weeks felt unbelievably healing in and of itself. The doctors assured me the ankle is healing, albeit slowly.
I saw a man die the other day. I was driving home from work Friday night when someone whizzed by me on a motorbike at well over 100 km/hr. When I was younger and we saw a crazy guy driving on the highway, my dad would always refer to them as a “cowboy”. “Just another cowboy with a death wish” I thought to myself. He had a loud bike I could hear coming from a mile behind me. He raced ahead of me about 100 or 150 meters, then flipped. I do not know if he hit a pot hole, car, truck, whatever. All I know is in a split second he was six feet upside down in the air. The whole thing happened in slow motion. He rag dolled. Bike slammed on his legs then slid in a different direction from it’s former rider. Still skidding at great speed, his helmetless skull slammed against the divider curb and his body came to an abrupt stop, utterly motionless. I vomited. Car and truck traffic came to a halt, but motorbikes continued to squeeze by. As I drove by slowly, I had to lift my slippers off the pavement so as not to soak them in blood. I don’t remember what the mans head looked like, my mind and conscious have blocked it out. I just remember thinking of a cracked egg. I didn’t stick around beyond that, rather puttered home, head on a swivel, not exceeding 50km/hr. I’m not gonna devolve a diatribe about the fragility of life, there’s many poets who’ve said it far better than I ever could. I honestly have not been as impacted by the event as I thought I would be. Rattling no doubt. Traumatizing for sure. Add it to the list. Carry on. Keep moving forward. That’s all I have to say about that.
On a happier note, England’s World Cup success has got the expats of Hanoi abuzz. Most of my friends in Hanoi have not been American (only met like three who are teaching English), but rather a mix of South Africans and Brits. I delighted in staying out til 4am watching England defeat Colombia in penalty kicks, then celebrating the victory til well past the sun came up (on the Fourth of July, no less). Though I was in Thailand for the quarterfinal match against Sweden, I found a bar nearby to watch the first half, watching the second half from a comfy couch at the hostel. Fully aboard the Hype Train, I purchased a full Three Lions kit from a market in Bangkok. I can’t wait for Wednesday night (Thursday morning 1am) to cheer along side those from what I’ve taken to referring to as my “grandmother” country, chanting about football coming home. It’s coming home. It’s coming home. Footballs coming home.
I have made no secret of how difficult this journey has been for me at times. Without a doubt, these past several weeks have been the most trying. But I think I’m through the worst of it. My ankle, according to the doctors in Bangkok, should be fully healed in another week or two. I am more able to teach with the excitement and passion required, which had been muted by physical pain. Friday, a good friend Scotty Ballan from Tulane who is in Hong Kong for the summer flies into Hanoi for the weekend. My 24th birthday is a little over a week away. In August, a platoon of friends will arrive five men strong. These past several weeks have been dark, but day begins to break over the horizon.
I have been listening to a lot of John Mayer recently. Though cliche, I have found wisdom and strength in the refrain of his song “Vultures”.
Down to the wire, I wanted water but I walked through the fire
If this is what it takes to take me even higher
Then I’ll come through like I do
When the world keeps testing me, testing me, testing me
Equally as cliche (if not more so), in all the free time I’ve had I’ve found myself writing some poetry in attempts to make sense of everything. Below is one of the poems I’ve written…
What are you searching for, Thatcher?
Funny question, I really don’t know
Maybe I’m searching for adventure, for excitement and youth
Or like Toto I’m hoping to find some long forgotten words of truth
Maybe I’m looking just to see what there is to see
Could be I’m digging deep, excavating a better version of me
Perhaps I’m peering inward to bring forward my fatal flaws
Or I might just be on a quest for Hanoi’s best Bun Cha
Maybe I’m looking all over the world to prove that I can look
Could I be looking in the wrong place? Could I be mistook?
Maybe what I’m looking for isn’t out there, but rather deep inside of me
Maybe it’s somewhere, everywhere, and nowhere, at the same time all three
Maybe what I’m looking for is simply the answer to the question posed:
“What are you looking for, Thatcher?” … I still don’t know