That residual taste of iron

So the TV show Survivor is one of my favoritest shows.  The premise has been pretty much standard for the past 9 years it’s been on: 16-20 “castaways” are stranded on an island, vote each other out, until the “Sole Survivor” is left standing and wins the million dollar prize.  I remember watching one season where a self-proclaimed “Super Fan,” Kathy B., quit on Day 19 or 20; she was physically drained, fatigued, and said that she couldn’t even hear the sound of her daughter’s voice anymore.

Many viewers criticized her and quitters of previous seasons saying, “You know what you signed up for,” and “There are so many other people who applied and didn’t get on the show, and here you are quitting!”  I used to think that way, too, but I actually went through something similar recently.  To Kathy B., if you’re out there: I ain’t mad at ‘cha, gurl, for leaving.

I went back to Phuket to see the guy I had met the first time around.  It was a disappointment pretty much.  I guess I wasn’t as high a priority than I thought I was.  We didn’t spend much time together at all, and he didn’t seem excited to see me.  It was hard to believe that there was such a drastic change from our first encounter; I tried to be understanding because he was going through a lot at work and at home.  There’s a lot of messiness and complexity that went on, and I’m still trying to unpack the “Did this really happen?” feeling from those four days.  A full week has passed by, and I still feel residual pain; it’s like I can still feel the taste of iron in my mouth after getting punched in the jaw the week before.

I’m trying not to take it personally, and I’m trying not to beat myself up about it.  I took a risk, and he just didn’t meet me halfway through.  I wasn’t sure if there were some cross-cultural interpersonal differences going on, too.  Or was I foolish to romanticize what was perhaps, simply a holiday fling?  A lot of unanswered questions, a lot of dwelling thoughts… I may not ever know why he acted the way he did.

I also have to admit there were a lot of tears shed and constant battles against feelings of loneliness that weekend – even though I was completely surrounded by hella tourists, tan beach workers, and ubiquitous vendors and tuk-tuk drivers.  A couple times I dealt with my problems like how an American knows best – I reached for the bottle to numb the acute pain.  OK, I know that sounds a bit insensitive, but I realized how truly seductive it is to use substances as momentary psychological, emotional band-aids.  A good empathy reminder for this aspiring social worker.

I know this is starting to sound like a complete debacle of a presupposed epic story of international romance – but ultimately there was something redeeming from it all, and this Chiang Mai-Phuket love story wasn’t a total tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude.  Halfway through the trip, as I wallowed and laid near-devastated in my hotel room, I felt like throwing in the towel and taking whatever dignity I had left back to Chiang Mai.  After sleeping the tears (and the Bacardi and rum) away, I decided to stay and see it through until the end.  I talked to my best friend in Chiang Mai for emotional support, but pretty much… I was left to gather myself on my own at Phuket.  I channeled internalized voices of support from close friends and family back home, and I knew that I wasn’t truly alone after all.

I have also realized after getting back from Phuket trip # 2, that Chiang Mai really is home.  It’s familiar territory, and I do have a support system out here, from friends, co-workers, to even my Thai language teacher.  One of my co-workers even took me to a nursery on the company grounds to play with toddlers to help me better.  Guess it makes sense that after five months I’ve made the transition, but then, in another three months, I’m going to have deal with my departure from the Land of Smiles (cue ego defense of denial).  The thought of being able to go back home, whatever that means to you, is so grounding, comforting, and even compelling: the thought that there are people who care about you and will welcome you with open arms if you come back from a rough experience away from home.  And so I guess that’s why Kathy B. went home.  And now I understand why.

(Coda: I haven’t spoken to Homeboy since I left Phuket.)

Kathy B. -- don't pay no attention to those haters, gurl!

Kathy B. -- don't pay no attention to those haters, gurl! They just don't understand.

Ne-Yo, I'm so sick -- of being disappointed!

Ne-Yo, I'm so sick -- of being disappointed!


~ by wannabejochen on 25/01/2009.

2 Responses to “That residual taste of iron”

  1. Hey bud-i am happy to hear you’re back in CM. See, Phuket really IS bad news.. 😉 jk.

    I think the fact that you had the experience you did will give you a lifelong memory, and the first half of the story will be one you can always look back on fondly. Take it for what it is, keep movin’ on, and love every minute from here fwd.

    Talk to you soon. 🙂

  2. as neyo said ealier on am also sick of being disapointed everytime i get into a relationship i dicover that the guy am in luv with is cheatin on me.

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