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Then and Now

I turn off my music.  The sound of the rain transforms my apartment to be one with nature, despite the four walls and the roof made of concrete.  The storm is near.  The storm is almost within.  I read my book listening to the rain drops full of moments.

In middle school I heard that rain drops are the tears of God.

I told my mom, “Traveling is like a drug.  You become addicted.  You need more and more to get the same high.”

More people to adore. More discomfort. More beauty to learn from.  More time alone.  More.

The security line at the airport is crowded.  I have plenty of time.  A huge smile covers my face. I am oddly relaxed.  As I put my belt back on as well as my tennis shoes I see a handsome, rugged, middle aged musician walking in my direction.  I feel the need to tell somebody, anybody about what I am going to do.  It doesn’t feel real.  giving it to the world to chew makes it feel more tangible.  However I have no idea what texture it will take.

“I’m going to Thailand to be an English teacher.”

“That’s wonderful.”  He responded.  “We need more teachers like you.”  His smile in between his beard was contagious.

A teacher.  I am going to be a teacher.  I am a teacher.  Soon, I will have been a teacher.

There is a flash outside that lights up the entire sky.  I am, what feels like feet, from the bolt producing this engulfing light.  The city is uncovered from its blanket of darkness for a pure second, reminding everyone this concrete jungle can be impressive.  It can be beautiful.

There is a wooden boat in the middle of the inlet.  It is silhouetted.  We can only see the black outline of the three people who ride the boat.  One man standing.  The controller. They are quiet.  He strokes with a grace and a simplicity. Pinks and blues and oranges fill the sky.  They are reflected in the water.  We are surrounded by elegance.  The people in the boat are floating within it.

Those who have more faith than I begin to chant.  It is low and haunting.  They give away the places of worship on the island.  I turn towards them and listen.  This moment feels like a hallucination.

The chanting ends.  Silence.  I wonder if the inhabitants of the island think of this place as exquisite.

There are realities I do not know.  Poverty. Corruption. Crime.

This moment, however, is beauty.

There is an enormous clap of thunder.  My heart quickens.  I become alert, waiting for the next one.  It does not come.  The storm passes as abruptly as it arrived.

“What will you do when you get back home?” his face is so kind, genuinely curious.  We are sitting in the Pad Thai Lady’s restaurant that is cluttered full of dusty history.  I make an effort never to look too closely, as the day I do, could very well be the day I stop eating at this kind lady’s home.   There is a picture of the King on the back wall and the television is blaring so that her mother can hear it.  Somehow I am comfortable here. She has finally started smiling at me.  She is generally a very serious woman, with her hat and apron on.

I answer honestly, “I am afraid to make decisions.”

“Why?”

“Once I choose one then I leave all my other options behind.”

He says simply, “You are a writer, teacher, traveler, and psychologist.  Get a job combining all of them.”

He says this as though it is common sense.  I am thankful to him for making it sound so easy.

He continued.  “You can be a director.  A movie director.”

I adore this idea.  We begin planning the movie we will create and direct together.

“Jackie Chan is a really famous Asian actor.”  He says with a smile.  Pan, the man sitting opposite me,  is from China.  The movie has become a story about us.  About our adventures.

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