Back home

 

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We’re back. After 7 weeks in Thailand and 4 days or so of travel (including a stop in Buffalo to recover the critters and bother the kid) we’re back home. We are reunited with Gypsy, Paxil, Sriracha (my car), Blackthorne (Steve’s truck), the washing machine, the snow blower, and work.

It was a dream. More than a vacation, less than retirement, we were living somebody else’s borrowed life and it’s over. For now.

Being home is bittersweet. There are the things that I love and the things that I miss like crazy. I missed Gypsy like a missing limb, more than Steve missed his cat. Gypsy looks good but she took up some funky hobbies in Buffalo. She got into sorting the garbage and cleaning the cat-box. Tim was unimpressed. We’re now both atoning for our sins with 3 plus miles daily walks and cleansing mud baths when available.

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There’s a dog under the ice! She smells like water! 

I love the hot,  hot baths, “onsen”, as Japanese call them. Getting in a hot bath after a long cold day cleanses the body and softens the soul. Wine, the blood of the grapes and the magic potion bringing youth and happiness is mandatory. Essential oils – lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass and rose enhance the experience. Candles are a nice touch.

I’ve been humbled and awed by the welcome I received from old friends at home and at work and even from people I barely know.  They act like they missed me and they’re happy to see me. Their love makes being back worth it.

Then there’s the joys of winter. I spent this Noreaster at Whiteface feeling like I’m flying through the landscape of a wedding cake on my rented wings. Good for the body and the soul.

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Winter splendor at Whiteface

Then, if it’s all so good, why do you miss Thailand, you ask?

The weather, Steve says. I can’t disagree, even though right now the air sucks. It’s the hot season, also the burning season. Max 90 today, min 69. No rain. It’s gonna get better in a month or so.

I miss the food. I miss the fried chicken with lime leaves and the little ladies enticing me with the crisp fried chicken skin and half ripe bananas and mysterious ground meats in hot sauces in little plastic bags with rice on the side that I buy without knowing what they are, and they laugh at me and with me and teach me Thai. I go home, heat them in the microwave for a minute and with teary eyes because of the heat discover the mysterious aromas of foods I have no name for but I will long for forever. I miss  the fruit, the red and the green and the yellow ones whose name I don’t know, fresh and tangy and firm because all the fruit they eat is underripe for my American palate. I miss the noodles with green or red curry and the crispy pork with rice and the fish on salt and the som-tum with dried shrimp I’m addicted to.

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My favorite Northern food: Kao Soy. A coconut curry soup – usually chicken – with thick noodles AND fried noodles seasoned with shallots, pickles and cilantro.Spicy? Yes. Tasty? Yes. Expensive? 45Baht. Priceless. 

I miss the massages. I didn’t tell you about the Thai massages yet – they are in a class of their own. It’s like being dismantled, cleaned up, oiled, put back together and tuned up like an old bike for less than $10 including tip. My two favorite places are the Women’s Prison Massage, where female prisoners learn a skill and earn money for when they get released – a beautiful romantic place with flowers, fountains and uniformed guards – and the Blind Conservation Massage, where blind people make a living by giving amazing massages to mostly Thai customers. And me.

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These two Ninja ladies work construction across the street. They keep covered to avoid the sun, wind and bad air – it’s not cool to have a tan here – but you can still see the smile in their eyes when I asked if I could take their picture. 

I miss the people, the ones I know and the ones I don’t. Living in the condo was like being in a camp for grown ups. Friends would call or just stop by for a chat or a drink. You run into a friend in the hallway and make plans for the day. You chat with the tuk-tuk driver, get a Thai lesson from the fried chicken lady or talk life goals with the Women’s prison warden.

Every day there’s an adventure: a music festival, a coffee shop, Tai-chi in the park, a new restaurant, a Flamenco show, a blues bar, a friend you haven’t met. Life in Thailand is a trove of wonderful surprises.

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Live flower arrangement at the flower festival. Notice the peacocks made of carved fruit?

Most of all though, I miss my freedom. I was Peter Pan in Neverland. I’d get up and go to bed whenever I felt like it. I had no responsibilities: no work, no dog walking, no cat brushing, no driving to shop and fill the fridge. No adulting. Sanuk, Eh?

Now, for the FAQ

  1. Are you back for good?
  2. How long are you here for?
  3. When are you going back?
  4. Why are you back?

One can take all those both ways but I think they are mostly well meant.

We’re here for now. Why? For Gypsy. Young children and old dogs, you’ve got to see them through.

I hope you’re still with us, for the hot and for the cold. Live well and have fun, will you?

See you soon.

The Joneses