Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shard




   Dirt grinds deeper into the trail as my tires spin forward. Pedal 1-2-3-breathein-1-2-3-breatheout. My legs are fluid and the path is wide. No one is outside on a cloudy Thursday afternoon. Humid spring air encases my skin and dulls the breeze. Smiles and reservations pass me by and then shift back, exploring amplitude. We cycle in a lazy line like an army of ants marching to harvest.

   The trail pauses and trees break to remind us the city still exists all around us. Cross walk, left turn, construction signals, right turn, left turn again. It's a jumble of business suits passing parking meters and stoplights that pose as safety.

   The road hardens, smooths, deceives.

   A pale white hand flashes and we move forward. The turns come quickly and I don't know them. Wrong lane, wrong position. A truck squeezes by so close it latches onto my breath as it speeds away.

   I want to carry on but there are callous cars coming around every corner now. Surrounded. I've lost the regiment and I retreat to the sidewalk.

   I struggle to find my pattern again, of air in and air out. I need the repetition, my focus.

   The air is so thick and I have to breathe more breathe faster.

   The image revolves over and over. Passenger's seat, left turn, sidewalk cyclist crumples on windshield. Teeth grind particles of gray glass. A million no's. Mangled car, strangled sounds Sirens and stretchers Faster Faster Faster. I feel the impact, hear the silence before the scream. I smell the agony and comb glass residue out of my hair, scratch it from my skin.

   I'm done
   I'm done I'm done I'm done
   I bounce on a heel.
   Clutch two fists tight.

   The enemy has fled this stretch of back alley. I still can't manage my breaths but I can squeeze my hands until I can't feel them.

   One leg over the top tube, push off.

   Pedal 1-2--breathein--breatheout-3-4-5-breathe in-6-breatheout-7--breathein-- I lose count. I squeeze I squeeze I squeeze the handlebars and push the pedals down down down.




Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thailand Vacation: Coolest Bangkok Markets


   On Day 2 of my trip to Thailand I traveled to 2 incredible markets just outside of Bangkok.


Market #1: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

   The Floating Market is a representation of what Bangkok used to be - "Venice of the East." As Thailand industrialized, all of the canals were filled up with dirt and covered with roads and skyscrapers.

Getting into our tiny boat

Cruising along to the sound of a very loud boat motor and the sight of beautiful, tropical trees and plants

The whole crew

Quick stop at the Coconut Sugar Farm on our way to the market

Making some coconut sugar
Those of us who aren't allergic to coconut tested it out.
Back on the boat, but hungry - no problem!
It's never a challenge to find someone selling food in Thailand. Never.

video
This is the view floating through the main area of the market. It's packed with boats and lined with shops, where you can purchase whatever you want without leaving your boat! And if you have a pro-Thai-translator with you (like my uncle) you can get the discounted "Thai price."

Shops
And more shops





Market #2: Maeklong Station Train Market

   This market is cool because it's kind of like a series of secret tunnels. There's one entrance to a huge tarped space that just goes and goes and goes. The Thailand heat is thick and heavy in there without a breeze and the odors of meat and fresh fruit and sweat all mingle together. It's quite a sight to see though, especially if you can witness the train run right through the center of the market!

 

There are several different types of pineapple sold in Thailand. This one was our favorite - a little sweet, a little salty.


This is the outer market - hold on, it gets more awesome


Okay, check this out. The left photo is still the outer market. Walk down the train tracks, under the tarps, and you're in the inner market (right photo). You can keep walking along the train tracks or turn into the bulk of the market on either side. The heat is sweltering. There's food everywhere, anything you can think of - produce, meat, fish, clothes, dried fruit, even bras and shoes. Cool part still to come!



Dried fruit for days and SO CHEAP
I wasn't kidding about the bras

This is the cool part. All of these people tear down and re-setup their shops every single time the train comes through the market! All in a day's work, right?



Previous Posts:
FAQs
Wat Pho Temple and the Grand Palace







Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Almond Milk Latte, Half-Caff




   We have the buzz. Legs jitter while eyes rivet. The air chills as the sun drops and the rain sprinkles a bedtime story in vain. 

   It seems to me that life is this capricious boy I'm dating and every time I feel that I've started to figure him out he changes the rules. I'm 24 now, you know. My birthday this year was full of jet lag and thorny feelings, but it was good. I was ready. I feel 24 and I'm going to own it.

   "How do you take something and make it your own?" he asks.

   Lately I've been interested in people's stories. I want to hear them and experience them and write them. A byproduct of traveling across the world I suppose. It leads me to wonder - what is my story? I think through versions I tell and categories of details I fastidiously choose. Suppose it varies by audience; is that okay? If my story is relative, then relatively speaking, which one is actually mine? Or is your own story never actually your own?

   "It has to be," he says. "What really is a story anyway but a character arc, a dance put to music? 'Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.' There is always another step and so another fork. A Volvo or a discomfort - choose your flavor of angst like ice cream."

   The breeze scrapes tree branches across the glass door and the room breathes. The rain has paused again. You sip and I sip and we sit.

   I've had a difficult time coming home from Thailand. The flights may have only lasted 26 hours, but my mind has been hovering over the Atlantic for weeks.

   "It makes sense," he says confidently, "after all you've experienced. First world problems, right?"

   One of my favorite things about fiction is the perspective shift. I'm free to explore ideas and feelings without being tied to the world. I think travel is similar, except I am still tied to the world, just not my world.

   He stares down into his mug because we're always disappointing each other like this.

   The past week has been a challenge. Deep breaths, big steps, smiles outside and turbulance within, but it's good. The assimilation stings like ice cubes in fists squeezed shut. And I'm here. I'm really here, and so are you, and we're talking again. We're making sense of the missing years and we're knitting together to move together and be whole. 

   I tell him I don't want to keep him, so he has an excuse to tread if I've grown stale, but instead he smiles. The words pour forth and they don't all translate, but they rest on the table and no one shoves them aside.

   It's a sweet union of head and heart. We've reached the denouement now and we're grasping at the lengths of thoughts and heart-speech with yearning to construct the right suture. The ache eases as it pulls taut. I'll rest this mug atop the hot pad I'm creating and brace myself - God-willing just temporarily - against the next inciting event.





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