After a year away, we’re back in the North Country, and it’s bitter-sweet.

I miss Thailand and my Chiang Mai friends. I miss the spices, the heat, and swimming before the pool opening time. I miss the orange-clad monks collecting alms as I returned from the market loaded with fruit, vegetables, and the meat-du-jour: anything from beef tongue to pig head via fried chicken. I miss the jasmine leis around my neck and the orchids, an armful for one dollar. I miss always trying something new: spiky fruits, stuffed bitter cucumber, crispy golden triangles with a spicy-sweet sauce. It took me months to learn they were fried tofu. I miss the back massages at Kad Suan Kaew, coffee with Steve, and chatting to my writer friends. I miss Thailand.

But that was then, and this is now. We got back for the last golden days of the fall, the final lawn mowing, the last hauntingly beautiful kayak trip before fall falls apart into winter.

We hugged our son that we hadn’t seen in a year, petted old Paxil, who looks younger thanks to his care, found friends we missed. We raided the wine shop, I savored my best burger in a year, and I got back to Instagramming the sunrise. I try to focus on the things I missed: Cheese. M*A*S*H. Our cabin in the woods.

But nothing is the same. Gone is our Sam’s membership. Gone are my ski pants. Steve dispoed them with most of my clothes. Gone are my skis, my pots, even the San Marzano peeled tomatoes.

I wasn’t pleased, and we had a few rough days. It was hard to forgive and compromise, but we did. We had to. It looks like we’ll be here for a while.

So much happened. COVID 19 – the mourning and the hoax. Fighting over masks. The economy. The elections. Neighbors fighting neighbors. The hate.

We try to make sense of it, and we struggle to deal with it, whether it makes sense or not.

We have to. Thailand is closed because of Covid. So is most of the world these days. Between the growing anger and raising Covid rates, Steve isn’t into RVing, and I can’t disagree.

Many have it worse. The sick. The mourning. The jobless. The mentally ill and isolated. The health workers, living in fear for their families. We are lucky, even though it doesn’t feel that way.

The news suck. Struggling to close my raincoat around the new curves I gained, feasting on Turkish Delight isn’t as much fun as eating. Looking at the skunks hunting for grubs in the back yard makes me wish they smelled better. Or not at all.

Instead of a birthday party, I took a 20K walk to think about the future. What should I do with myself?

I could spend my time writing a book, reading, watching old movies. Wait for the world to come back to its senses. After all, a year is no big deal.

But there’s no guarantee. Even less these days. This year may be the last we can still enjoy life. How can we make the most of it?

We’ll get a dog. We’re dog people. We’ve been orphans since Gypsy died two years ago. A dog will fill our hearts and our lives.

We adopted Guinness. She was born to a Mennonite family in Pen Yan twelve weeks ago. She LOVES people, dogs, and cats, but walking? Not so much. She’d rather be carried. She has a taste for horse manure, grubs, and dead fish, but she’ll eat whatever she can find, from crocs to carpets—anything but her food.

Gone are the days I wondered what to do with myself. Thanks to Guinness, I ran out of time to watch the news and complain.

So we go on, hoping that once the elections are over, we can be a nation again. Like all of you, I know that my choice is the best. And I hope we win. But, whoever wins, remember we’re all in the same boat. Bragging, shaming, and humiliating the others, is uncool and unAmerican. Let’s get ourselves together and move on.

Remember that love trumps hate, kindness trumps judging, and we’re stronger together.

I wish you health, safety, and love. See you on the other side.


Rada Jones is an ER doc in Upstate NY, where she lives with her husband and his deaf black cat Paxil. She is the author of three ER thrillers, Overdose, Mercy and Poison, and “Stay Away From My ER,” a collection of medical essays.


9 Responses

  1. Hopefully, when this is all over, the pandemic, our election, we will be a better nation, a United nation. A nation where black, Muslim,gay, white, are all acceptable “titles”. As humans we HAVE to do better, it’s such a small planet. As parents and grandparents, even aunts and uncles, we need to teach our children love, tolerance, that we all can have an opinion that is no wrong just because it’s not what we believe. We truly have failed. Regardless of all the above we need to accept others and love each other for who we all are not who we want them to be. We need a kumbaya moment. Stay safe.

  2. Rada, your writing is so touching , especially to me , maybe I evolved into a more sensitive soul…Yes the whole world become an understandable place …I never went anywhere for a year , I worked the same 2 jobs I eve had but world around me is unrecognizable …I relay want to go home , a home were everything remained the same …unfortunately this imaginary place does not exist…

    1. Thank you Carmen. So sorry for your pain! I really hope we’ll move on and get back to some normality soon.

  3. Looking good! Guinness is beautiful! Looking forward to a new year filled with hope, kindness and new books 🙂

    Be well

    Dawn Ferrigno

  4. Hi Rada – Greetings from Maerim! As always, I love reading what you have written. Your writing is so fresh it’s almost like talking to you. Adjusting back to the US in fall/winter would always be challenging – even more so with a pandemic and an election along with it. Hopefully things will change for the better soonish. Hang in there, but please keep trying to come back soon. xx Julie

  5. Hey girl, excited to hear you are back here for awhile. Would love to come see you, if you are up for a visit. If not, that’s ok too. Sending you a hug, Pauline

Comments are closed.