Inle Lake

Myanmar Series: Inle Lake

It’s on the bright and breezy Saturday of my 32nd birthday when I saw the trees lining up on the banks of the water and the rich colors of white and blue and green in sight. My new husband of a few months organized a little weekend trip to one of the most popular destinations in Myanmar. I didn’t know what to expect, really. Breathtaking would be an understatement.

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Maybe if I Just.

It has been a minute since the last update.

I am very a little disappointed in myself for not writing as much. This is my creative outlet and I know i haven’t been creating lately. Bleh. I made an awkward promise to myself today to not to neglect the writing. After all, you can’t nurture the craft if you don’t practice. And I should nurture this, because writing is the happy place. And I’ve no reason not to. Even if this turns into a personal headspace of random thoughts sans direction, it is, at the very least, an exercise in discipline. So here goes the promise.

Read on, lovelies.

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he was like a big dusty summertime thundershower with sheets of crisp refreshing rain

(Life update) apologies for the long pause.

My first 6 months in Asia have been a whirlwind of unique experiences. Summers in Southeast Asia are strange – always warm, like an uncomfortable hug from an old acquaintance.

Much of May and June were spent in varying degrees of happiness, sadness, and indifference. About life, about what to do next. Who I was with, not with. The what-ifs and buts of a path I couldn’t be sure about.

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“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”- the little prince

My heart is in my throat as I wake up from a pool of cold sweat. I dreamt of trying to find you when you wandered into the adjacent. The gravel beneath my feet feels like heavy sand, and the first stars are appearing in the valley. I stand at the end of the drive way in the time stopped stillness of the moment and take a deep breath as I realized I’ve gone to look for you at the wrong house.

Suddenly you appear. Everything happens at light speed.

We are shrieking with laughter and our bodies were shaking. We are at one point the same height in each other’s arms. Your neck smells like clean sweat, heavy with you. I hadn’t seen your face in over a year. I don’t really know what you look like anymore. You’re wearing a black hat, with bracelets at your wrists. We’re staring at each wide eyed and a little shell shocked, laughing with nerves.

You and me.

We were only ideas of us before. A teacher I met on Instagram who made me hold my breath late at night as I listened intently to his voice over my phone. I am a simple girl from California with a little camera and a penchant for words. These were moments of extreme lightness, the story of two people continents away.

You pulled my head into your reality. The voice on the phone telling me you enjoyed talking to me live rather than texting. I paced around the house trying to drop my voice just a pitch and a half because I was worried I’d wake the neighbors.

But I was afraid you’d be like my other dream, where you dissolved in the morning. The one where you wake up and half-remember. I am looking for you through a relentless search, except I couldn’t find you. Other men have appeared, I was drinking and lonely. Disoriented and scared. My mannerisms made me stammer my way through timezones and explanations of kumquats and the countryside life. I imagined you in my future life a little but I was a timid kitten in the woods and didn’t know the impact of the realization it had on you. I held still and waited, but you were already gone.

I had always wanted to love. I never craved for passionate kisses, presents or fancy dinners. I wanted to be the only one to have a key that could unlock someone, so that their soul came spilling out, perhaps someone as lost and spirited and wondering as I am.

A soulmate.

“You see, one loves the sunset when one is so sad.” 

Someone to pour my life into, to mold together with. We’d be the torrent river on the way to the wild sea. Full of rainwater and brightly colored pebbles all worn and smooth from the passing of time. Something the world had never seen before, and perhaps, maybe never see again.

But i was always wrong for you, while I worried that for you I had been far too much, or maybe far too little. The realization made me feel devoid of all else. My brightly colored version of love did not fill your empty spaces. Maybe for me it was a sad tale that happens to far too many – without nurturing you, you turned inward. I am always on the lookout for something meaningful to quench that aching thirst for connection. I prayed that i could be different, for you, though mostly I felt that my efforts had been a failure before it really began, that balmy May night. I couldn’t be sure that you’d turn the tides the other way and I thought maybe you’d fight a little harder for me. That you thought the exact same of me as I thought of you.

I think I knew more about you than you realized.

You never revealed anything. You were nowhere to be found. There were small clues along the way if I looked keenly enough. A hint that something was wrong; the vagueness of a certain June weekend. Something troubling you at a place where no one would catch sight of.

You were like some kind of fortress, your emotions indiscernible, your true feelings hidden just past where I could see them in the fall and rise of your chest.

It had been a secret pride of mine- the ability to read an emotional landscape like it was a vast expressionist painting, every stroke of the brush and where it came from visible to the eye.

But it wasn’t that way with you. Everything was carefully organized and tucked away. When I reached in your direction the space was grey and shrouded in certainty. Your face was unreadable. Your brown eyes huge and unfathomable. What you thought as you watched me fumble through making you tea and I lost track of what I could possibly say, it was all mystery. You were a mystery. You were made of walls. A maze of dark heavy stones that towered high above my head and out of sight. There were no doors, there were no windows. No signposts, no hints.

The only way in was to go in at the very start and work my way through to your brain, path by path right in the thick of the endless dead-ends. But at times the ground was very hard and if I looked very sharply in the dim light I could follow where you had once been, the mark of your shoes on the interior of your world. A world that you kept separate when there were others involved.

A girl and her many tattoos. A beautiful young woman with hair like the sun. Chasing you. Protecting you. Understanding you through the epic frontier of Alaska.

We were a relationship that hadn’t quite made it. As everyone bears a thorn in their heart at times, there was an idea of hope that fell to the ground in torn paper wings. A hurt that may take a long time to go away. I knew the feeling from both sides, especially when forever turns out to be a lot shorter than you thought it would. It wakes you up in the middle of the night while you blink back tears remembering the sweetness that turned bitter. Wasn’t this love? If it wasn’t, what did I do wrong? Why were you conflicted? How did we lose? 

Perhaps the love we had, you were cautious to begin. It was me, maybe. I was the girl everyone claimed was made of syrup, sunshine and smiles. The girl always reaching for your hands, laughing and laughing. My life, wholesome and bright, with the scent of toasted marshmallows.

That was how I lost you. In that long June night, I left my glasses on the bed post and began to cry, petrified at the sudden loss. A head rush of knowledge that this, the romance felt by strangers in Bangkok, was over.

Your river begins to flow. You’re free.

1.5 months in Yangon, Myanmar

It was sitting by the lakeside pier of Bogyoke Park when I finally pull my phone from my lap to draft this. The water was flowing in smooth curtains under the rise and fall of the densely green waves adorned with lily pads and the occasional birds flying by to touch the water; their long beaks diving over hoping to pull up food.

The trees lining the park are so richly green and dense – something my eyes have never seen outside of Yangon. Green and yellow hues as far as one can see. The humidity presses skin deep, with droplets of water forming on my skin. The sky is a rich grey, clouds moving to signify the impending storm. I feel the weight of the past 2 days breaking me silently inside, a deep rooted fear that’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The heaviness feels exactly the way the sky looks, and the weight feels heavier the further I carry it. My heart has stopped looking for him, or expecting him to come around a corner laughing or explaining something in his careful, ardent way. It’s an ache that slips to the surface whenever I look through our photos of happier times.

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There Is One Thing

There is one thing you should know about me.

It is about my ability to lead hope to dark places. To embellish what I cannot understand.

Please do not indulge in my hopelessness, as it results in addiction as close to sadness on a winter’s night.

How easy it is to get captivated by loss. I have walked with it, been intimate with it. I invited loss to my heart. But it was through loss that I now see you were an intermediary; a long and narrow bridge to something perhaps more beautiful.

– mysteries

Then you overcome. Then you begin.

Jennifer Ngan photography

It takes a lot from us, at times, to be the best version of ourselves. Being defined and redefined at any given moment, whether through a tumultuous experience or a eye opening revelation. Living a false sense of self, only to a die a little, promotes a life of faux perfection and non- redemption.

More than ever, i see that we live in a society where (illogical) fear is not only instilled in us since childhood, but is rather a byproduct of our culture that seeps into every aspect of our humanity.

For example, the importance of one thing relative to another. Finding a breakthrough in cancer research vs an angry boss whose jet is needing to be rerouted because of bad weather? In capitalist hierarchy, the ladder is always more important. And we are trained to believe that we must alleviate all roadblocks for said plane because someone has the money to exert their power, yes, even weather. Because capital is everything here, and we are so deeply divided by means over matter.

This isn’t some negative thing. And i swear there is no gloom in recognizing it for what it is. I would just like to see more compassion in people, more love in an otherwise mundane outlay of the modern world, with careless robots operating conveyor belt style in a half-assed attempt to better this world.

I think people like the idea of a united front but to be the one that leads with example is a lot less popular.

In the grand scheme of things, what matters? I mean, the level in which the importance comes from is quite tasteless. In my recent pursuit to find meaning, I’ve learned that when you’re not ready to, you’re all too eager to prove that you are ready to start this path but it is hard to admit to yourself, and even harder to those closest to us, that you are completely and unabashedly unprepared.

Finding that grand escape sounds wonderful. Fueling those thoughts with an open heart and mind is another. And it is often where I question myself in the middle of a gloomy afternoon, wondering if my path is all wrong, that maybe I should be elsewhere, maybe i should not be here. That this isn’t right for me, that perhaps I should leave it or should I just let it be..? Or maybe I am selfish and I don’t see things with enough clarity that I become too fixated on my own journey that I neglect the journeys of those closest to me? That internal battle of leaving it all behind sounds like a welcome reprieve until it doesn’t.

Time – is it really there? In the artificial construct of human mentality, yes. Time is quantifiable. Time has a duration. Time seems to be of a sequential chain in which events take place, measured in a forward-going linear motion.

But when can we take a minute be defeated? To be so vulnerable that our soul bleeds our ego. And to be so gone we finally reacquaint ourselves with clarity and see time as nothing more or less the present?

Because when you are defeated, your heart pounds harder and you are in this uncharted terrain of life that becomes you. Consumes you.

Then you overcome. Then you begin.