By the beginning of February, I left my job and hopped on a plane to begin the next adventure. To start life anew, open to possibilities.
Back in Fall of last year I received two very big requests to visit two separate friends. One in London, the other in Myanmar. I was excited for London with my friend Elizabeth, and a boy in Myanmar. The boy (a long time friend) and I reconnected over a year ago. Things became serious when He asked me to find my way to Him. To consider the possibility, that two people living on opposite sides of the world, could in fact find a way to be together. I offered to visit with emotional hope but rational reserve. He offered to pay half my airfare and to share His world with me. This, as we defined our gray area relationship, would not become certain or real until emotions could be felt in flesh. Until then, a month long February date was put on the calendar. By March I would go to Europe.
Months, sweet emails, skype calls later, our “date” drew near. I began to feel the pressure from saving money and dropping my job, I was leaving stability. Four weeks from February, He asked me to switch Europe in front of Asia. His hope was to open the possibility of extending our “date” to a longer stay, potentially a move. I did, because maybe this was worth fighting for. I took action at his requests to make this trip worth it for us, and I found my emotions following the direction of my commitments. Maybe I was going to stay with him? Oh, the silly girl I am.
While in London, two weeks before the planned trip to Asia, He told me this wouldn’t work out, He was seeing someone else. After 6 months of reading “you might be the adventure I’m looking for…” This adventure between us was over.
I was still going to Myanmar, it had been my plan. He said with all intention, He wanted me there as a friend. Plans kept changing and I kept trying to role with them. On March 5th, my departure date, I hugged my dear friend Elizabeth goodbye on the Piccadilly line to Heathrow airport. I held her tight before she left at the next station, she held back just as hard. London commuters had their newspapers high. She said ‘I love you’ loud and clear, exactly the way I needed to hear it. I said it right back at her. For me, Europe had already been full of tears, but Elizabeth had taken care of me. Full of kinship, struggle, drunkin’ nights, quiet moments, holding my hair while I puked behind parked cars, a fight that had me screaming at her in the streets, she was there. I was saying goodbye, while London for the first time, was in perfect form. The daffodils fully bloomed, blue sky, and the warmest temperatures since I arrived. I was leaving a beautiful day and Elizabeth. I was about to begin the next part of my trip—I was going to see Asia and Him.
I spent my passage to Chiang Mai, Thailand (another diverted route to Myanmar) questioning how I would react to Him in person. I lost romantic feelings for Him well before the trip began, seeing small signs. On the plane my emotions were lost and with a countdown, entirely confused. How would I spend 2 1/2 weeks with Him?
When I first saw Him at the airport, 10 minutes was all it took to feel an emotion. I was casually introduced to His beautiful Venezuelan girlfriend, she had a feather in her hair. Emotion hit like a tidal wave and it felt like cabin pressure at 40,000 feet dropping fast for landing. Sensory hearing, smell, and touch had gone numb, breathing had become a conscious effort. I was seeing Thailand for first time, and it passed by like a TV on in the background. I was completely incapacitated from everything besides feeling the horrible outpour of sadness. And pour it did.
I pondered, “Had I allowed myself to fall in love?” No, I hadn’t. “Had I set up preposterous expectations?” Maybe, but not enough to merit the degree of pain. I had come prepared to see him as a friend, but as He changed and overturned plans 67 times before I arrived (including 24 hours before my flight) I should have known. In person, I could tell my resonance with Him as even a friend had dwindled for a long time without me knowing and now it felt like nothing. All I knew was I didn’t come here for this no matter how the definition changed. I decided to reroute my entire Asia trip, and go into Myanmar alone.
The next day over fried fish at a lakefront cafe, I told him of my new plans to continue on my own. A withered black cat came begging for scraps at the table. He and I began to argue over how butchered this “date” had become. At times I wanted to pin Him for the wrong he had done against me. The pain I felt, the airfare he sidestepped, the stress, struggle, and tears. All of it. Instead I breathed, fed fish to the funky dying cat, shortened the argument, and held onto the last of the dignity I had. Withholding my shame, agony, anger, and tears from him was the only way to empower myself again.
I thought back to my argument with Elizabeth, screaming on the streets and crying all night long. Amidst, I yelled “I know tomorrow I’m going to still love you. I’m not going anywhere, no matter how pissed I get.” Something happened between us that night, we had extended our trust for each other. To me, that’s a fight worthy of love.
With Him in Thailand, I found the answer to the feelings I questioned: I had cared all along. When I physically saw Him, it struck me that recklessly, He didn’t. I was kicked to the ground, and didn’t have it in me any longer—He wasn’t worth the fight.
In my final day in Chiang Mai, I meandered the temples on my own and painted. The sky was a hazy yellow and sun glowed a vivid orange-red. The start of my visit was timed at the end of “burn season.” The smoldering sky caused by the slash-and-burn agriculture dominating Southeast Asia. Though apologies were made for the unsightly landscape, the conditions seemed to mirror my feelings perfectly.
He and I said goodbye yesterday at the bus station, and did so respectfully. On the way to the boarder town of Mae Sot, I watched the endless burnt landscape pass through the bus window. The earth charred and dead. Yet amongst the death, black, and smolder, the earth will be tilled to finally give life again. Though I would not see it on this trip, the promise that the ground will return to a beautiful state of growth is enough to hold onto.
Today is March 10th and I’ve been in Thailand for 4 days. I am taking the leap to Myanmar on my own. I’m taking back control of my journey.