It was a 15 minute car ride out of town. The butterflies began dodging cars as we left the city limits. They were a light shade of yellow and their wings were round and curvy, as though the sun was giving us something tangible to enjoy. As we pulled into the parking lot, the owner of the coffee shop was sitting outside playing with his dog. The coffee shop was also his home as this land, near rice patties and natural Thailand contained one container with holes cut out for windows and a door and transformed into a small, modest coffee shop with the character of something brilliant. On top of the brilliant coffee shop, he had stacked another container. This was his bedroom. The land was his home. It was utilized fully as the rooms of his life were scattered throughout.
We got our Vietnamese coffee and sat there for hours. This man, who was thin, with a kind face and mannerisms that hinted towards shyness, but a lifestyle which implied genius, was very generous. He gave us time and coffee and seemed to be genuinely curious about the lives of two people he had known for a short time. His girlfriend shared his kind features as her lips parted into a smile that covered her entire face creating a contagious feeling of humor and kindness. I sat there watching this couple dressed for comfort. This comfort extended past their wardrobe. They understood each other. Their eyes knew what each action and expression meant.
The aroma of peppers filled the brilliant coffee shop. We took this as our signal to take our leave. His girlfriend, with the adorable bowl haircut and eyes so wide you could see her soul, began cooking in their outdoor kitchen as their public coffee business closed and their private lives began. As we made our way to the car the man invited us to join them next time and so we left with an invitation to come and create private lives that intermingle.
The next night, life went from simple to extravagant. I wore a feather in my hair and red lipstick on my lips and had a confidence that would have fooled anyone. The elevator ride was long, reaching for the 25th floor. There was an open door, leading to a balcony that had a scene which transported you to a different era. Men and women dressed to the nines, with rings on every finger and pearls dangling from the thin necks of those living in the wrong time. This was their night of escape.
A mixture of jazz and hip hop created a unique era entirely. It was a mixture of the past and present and it was sensational. Every sense was on overdrive and every emotion was being felt at once.
The smoke in the air was so thick that you had to inspect every detail closely. As I emerged from the crowd of people wearing fur coats and fake eye lashes, there was the city of Bangkok waiting to take my breath away. I was swimming amongst the towering skyscrapers of the Big Mango and in that moment I turned into someone different. Somebody elegant, and wealthy, and mysterious. I had a deep raspy voice and smoked cigarillos with a grace that was unnatural for me. A man with round framed glasses and a black mustache that curled up at the tips walked towards me. Before I could help it, I asked “Could I bum a smoke?” The ease of these words startled me. He gave me an easy smile and handed me a cigarette out of his vest pocket. As I leaned over trying to block the light from the cool breeze atop that roof, I found myself enjoying my new identity. I puffed. Inhaled. Exhaled. I felt strong and sexy and that confidence that began with that red lipstick, grew into feeling of drive and infinity. I was invincible.