(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.
I was with a boy for a few months. We’d made a little life together, did domestic things. Talked about our futures. We had fun most of all. There was nothing but laughter and joy in our lives. Happy, until it wasn’t. In June, we called it quits and I hadn’t been that thrown off in a long time.
But July was a revelation of sorts. I left Yangon with the intention of never looking back, and I vowed to myself to not love as blindly as I did. I spent my last evening in Yangon at the Shangri La. When I made reservations I said it was my husband and I’s first wedding anniversary. Why I did that, I have no idea. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of such. (Spoiler alert: it ends happily). Pastries and roses were delivered to my room.
We went back to his apartment to get something. I also left notes of goodbyes for him earlier that afternoon. I had never seen anyone break down as much as he did that night. For me. This girl. I was both surprised and saddened. I felt sad for his anguish. No one deserves to be that sad. He told me he loved me (his words, I f***ing love you so much), I was gutted. And floored. Up until then, I thought he was happy for me to move on.
I wore a yellow dressy top to dinner and a pair of jeans. In the Shangri la lobby, there were musicians playing 80s music as I sat with my body facing him. I thought to myself, being here in such an exotic city after leaving my little California bubble has got to be the coolest thing one could possibly do and it was an interesting space to occupy. I never thought I’d travel this far, or not give a shit about not working. Being in love, being hurt by love… starry eyed and trying not to fall in love. How very thirty one. My children would laugh at this story someday.
The Shangri La has an air of that high maintenance lifestyle. We slept in luxury robes and talked all night. It is difficult to keep above the water when everything in your life is changing. Trying to stay afloat when the tides are high. But such was life, he needed to sort his issues and I needed to move on.
I requested and was granted late check-out the next day. I spent the entire morning lounging in bed, taking a long hot bath and packing my things for the airport that afternoon. Before i left, I held the roses in my palm and left them on the bed as I rolled my luggage out. It was a goodbye to Myanmar and their beautiful welcoming people.
Breakups is learning to be zen. The most zen. The zennest.
The best love story isn’t a whirlwind.
I thought I was ready for it. Love. I wasn’t, not in the least bit. I got swept up by romance in the heat of the moment without second guessing. But I was content to have experienced love for what is was for that short 3 month period. And it was okay. I was ready to let it all go, for the greater good or whatever the hell self help books say nowadays. (F*** those books btw, and apologies for the reference)
I was really sad. He was really sad. Someone else was really sad. It was a sad shit fest that panned out like the triangle. I wanted out, not because I stopped loving him, on the contrary; there were too many things that made us great together. But I also wanted him to be happy. It didn’t matter what i wanted, because ultimately i know that we had a whirlwind of a summer and I didn’t expect anything else. We loved each other very deeply in spite of our fleeting romance story.
But it doesn’t work if he’s looking at you, and you’re looking at her and she’s looking away.
We were moving ahead for sure, but perhaps not on…
Meanwhile, I arrived to Bangkok to do CELTA. It was a one month intensive course on teaching. I’ve always had some intention to teach when I was studying at uni but somehow I walked a different path and landed in fintech for much of my career. So, at the start of CELTA, it was rough. Like, really rough. It was a full day of classes bright and early, schedules and assignments (I’m 31. Why do I still have homework?).
But I’ve always been able to divert my focus onto something if I set my mind to it. As much as I had “boyfriend” problems, (I hate that term btw), I also knew that the problem was as big as your mind makes it to be. So I focused on what was important at the moment and it wasn’t boyfriend issues! I didn’t want to be that girl that was constantly heartbroken. But I felt like my whole life shifted. I thought back to my few days in Malaysia and Singapore and how alone it felt when things ended between us. I was walking on some non-pedestrian bridge in Singapore and felt nothing but loneliness and sharp sadness for a few moments before someone asked me for the time. I had a sudden urge to go be in the comfort of the people who wanted me. I wanted to be home. Not in some controlled soulless society.
Snapping myself out of it, in that moment, everything became about resource allocation. I needed to sort my life so that I would have energy for school, socializing, eating, yoga, studying.
Or lying in bed on weekends listening to podcasts all day.
If there was one lesson I could have taught myself then, it would be: it’s okay to make things easier for yourself when you can, especially when you’re heartbroken.
It’s completely okay to put on that makeup to feel more beautiful. It’s also okay to say no to socializing and treat yourself to nice hot yuzu scented bath. You do not need to always struggle to embrace how sad you are.
My inexperience led me to feelings I never thought I was capable of and my little world closed off like a snow globe. I knew he was sad too, and that made us connect yet again, through the loss of us and the impending thought of everyone moving on. I knew in his heart, he didn’t want us to be over. But he was trapped in trying to balance not letting someone down and understanding what he actually wants.
He and I so united, yet so separate.
My beliefs on love had been a bit shattered at that point and feelings dissolved into indifference. Part of me was still heavily sad though another part of me wanted to fight for the relationship that was so clear to the both of us. Part of me also knew that fighting for him did not mean I needed to drop everything immediately and fly there to prove I am worthy, to console the very person who i felt let me go. There was no ego in that thought; simply that every decision has a cause and effect, and a consequence. I didn’t need to prove anything. He would know it eventually, what he’d given up on. So I silently hoped he wouldn’t give up on us.
A new chapter
What started out as a regular weekend in Bangkok turned into a weekend of realizations and a love that we saw again, as we saw when we first met. You see, I wasn’t ready to forgive him at that point. It always felt like there were two of him; one that was for me who died at the hands of the other. And I hated the second one the way I would hate anyone who brought harm to the first. I couldn’t really separate the two, so I pushed them both into the recesses of my mind.
But we talked and talked. We took a bath, talked more. He gave me his reflections in a journal. I was deeply moved. In the journal, he wrote about his fears of commitment and his many years of being used to the single life. But at the same time, he wrote that me leaving would be the biggest mistake of his life. I realized it never had anything to do with the other person. He was always clear in how he saw them and he never wanted anything more. He just didn’t know how to say no. At that point, I felt a strong urge of guilt and a wave of sadness hit me like a burning wildfire, not the controlled fire I was feeling moments before. I loved the man. I loved him so much. This was his way of running to the airport to stop my flight. This was his big epic declaration of love. I also felt it would be our biggest mistake if we parted ways.
I was still ready to go back home for the umpteenth time. Back to the place where I could spend my summers sitting in Spanish moss and wearing sweaters and being cozy in fire pits. But at the same time, I wanted so much to be with him, to share our day to day life, and deepen our understanding with each other.
I could live in a little cottage near the sea and write books on the great mysteries of being. But I would be missing him. How I loved him so.
The love that we experienced was one of unique depth, of which I didn’t know I would experience at any point. We used to talk all day when I was in the states. We shared so much of our lives. He mailed me the gift of his language and mine, on Valentine’s Day. Pablo Neruda’s poems in Spanish with translations to English. Neruda was my favorite poet in high school. We connected through our love for language. We wrote poems together on google docs, subtext heavy. It was hard to just let it go. Because our relationship had an element that he said he’s never felt with anyone before. It was the same for me. It still is.
When I think back to my then on again and off again boyfriend, I am reminded that he was like a big dusty summertime thundershower with sheets of crisp refreshing rain but also clasps of thunder and lightning at times that startled me from cloud to cloud.
But whether what has been was wrong or the perfect blend of right, the uncharted days are calling and I am ready to step into them. That July afternoon I felt an immense surge of love and realization that I had been blindly forgoing. He held on to me as I was letting go. I held on to him as he tried to let go. How strange it was to be both letting go and holding on at the same time. Mine was through words. His was through language. We realized how deeply this connected us from the start, and went back to it to mend what was disrupted.
I said, yes. We will do this again. I chose us too. In that moment, it was as if my nerves fused together overnight. Life felt like it’s swung back my way, and was ready to stop frantically avoiding that little nudge of doubt that seemed to grow wildly out of control before.
A few weeks ago, despite our little rocky summer, we got married. What could I ever write or say, as there are no words for every moment and step that led us here. What I can appreciate now is the sound of his coffee making in the morning, and his gentle laughter just seconds before he springs to attack me out of bed. Never had anyone wanted to speak to me for hours on end, interested in my day to day life like it was of utmost importance. I would wake up to 50 messages and declarations of love and random quirky things. Reflections. Talking for hours about life and its beautiful warmth, our little world full of our own musings about the future, about my life back home, his life back home. Our life now. Our future. Growing together. It was as if the past bled away, washed away by my love for weather related imagery.
I realize the past few months have made me see with wisdom-madic knowledge I hadn’t known before. When I started this blog, some years ago, I always wanted it to be a safe space to write and reflect. I reflected more than I had ever.
I love him. I married my best friend. My husband. And our new life begins now ❤️