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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Most Difficult Experience... So Far

April 17. So I haven’t blogged for about 5 days now, which I apologize for. Although I’m only writing about one day, there are plenty more to come in the very near future. The reason that I haven’t posted anything for so long is because I have been trying to enjoy the past few days, which are more or less a “vacation”. It hasn’t been as easy to enjoy this “vacation” as I would have thought, and here’s why.
Today, my parents arrived to visit me. I hadn’t mentioned it in any of my past posts because I was too caught up in writing what had happened to focus on the future. I was excited throughout the day and during the car ride into Chiang Mai, where I was meeting them. We had booked to stay at a hotel for 3 nights, a hotel called the Tamarind Village. It’s a beautiful property, with luxurious rooms and complimentary breakfast, but I was too preoccupied to even notice. I checked into our room, though I didn’t stay long. I lingered in the lobby for an hour before they arrived.
They arrived from the back entrance, and it caught me completely by surprise. My mother was the first to seize me in a bone crushing hug and then my father and brother were upon me. Seeing them all standing there brought a flood of mixed emotions. I was happy to see them, of course, but their presence was far from comforting. I still stay another week at the orphanage after they leave, but I felt as if my trip was coming to an end. I also didn’t know how to act around them. They didn’t seem to have changed at all, but I felt as if I no longer knew my own family. A few people who have been on similar trips might not have had a similar experience as I did when I saw my family. This trip, however, has flipped my perspective and world upside down, so it was for that reason that I found myself lost for words at their encounter.
We brought the luggage into the rooms and then went back to the hotel pool, talking all the while. They, my mom especially, bombarded me with questions about my travels and it was easy to talk about those experiences for a while. Then when it came time to ask them questions and relate to them, it became harder. I had known these 3 people all my life, yet with my new outlook, I felt as if I was meeting new people. It was an awkward experience, followed by an awkward conversation. I didn’t know what to ask or even say, and it’s very hard to explain why. I loved seeing my family, but it was as if I was back in the home where I had left a part of myself I never wanted to see again.
My parents left me with my 12 year old brother later on in the pool. This was a bit easier, because he, like me, seems to have changed. He told me that he has now joined a crew team, shaves, and has had his first girlfriend. All this took me completely by surprise, even more so than his deeper voice and developed chin. I was seriously impressed by all this, and we swapped stories through most of the night while we all walked through the night market of Chiang Mai.
I went to bed feeling out of place and in an uncomfortable position. I don’t mean physically, but mentally. I was again being thrown into a situation that I had not dealt with before, but like the ones before this, I wasn’t going to keep myself from making the best of it. I also was unnerved by the luxurious hotel we were staying at. The area around me felt tainted, as if I had left the best part of Thailand behind on the floor I had been sleeping on and I was now one of the worst parts of Thailand, surrounded by falsely comforting sheets and pillows. Going from living in hostels, temples, huts, and orphanages to living in a 5 star hotel is quite a shock and my mind was rebelling against this experience with more ferocity than it had ever done before.


  1. Jimmy,
    How your life has changed, and how articulately you express your feelings. I feel privileged to be a part of your journey.
    143 dearly,

  2. Hey jimmy - been enjoying your experiences throught your posts (been busy and haven't commented in a few). I can't believe you ate a cicada! But then again i can believe YOU did. Very pleased that you've seen and experienced how people in other parts of the world are living. Living with less, and i'm sure youve seen people living with nothing. It's changed your outlook on everything and this post reflects that. Keep enjoying yoir travels and the people you meet! But i'm sure you're enjoying your family right now.
    Take care, uncle tommy

    Ps. Stay out of those huge trees, especially in places with few MDs!