I feel like running away. I have my bags packed. But I pause bedside. I know that path out the door leads to a place lonely and twisted. So I stay. And we talk. I love that about us. We talk things out, leave nothing unsaid, work through the treacle. I say words I haven’t said in nine years. We make love, cook breakfast, and listen to kings. This path, right here. It leads some place beautiful.
I made it clear that I was only going to be in town for three months initially so I couldn’t do a long-term contract. But I didn’t read the small print and they snuck twelve in on me anyway. Credit card company twice failed to kill the recurring payments. So I tell the manager at the gym that I’m leaving the country. Said he needs to see my ticket out of town. I bring him one. No problem, he smiles, consider it cancelled. I don’t believe him.
Sat on the couch in underwear and a torn tee, I start the timer. Deep breathing, then purging, then hold. I repeat the pattern three times, capping out at a hold that would have made Harry Houdini proud. Best of all, I experience no loss of sensation, no color morphing. I get up off the couch and celebrate with pistachios and Macklemore, then go tell Facebook.
Sprint training at one of those nice open stadiums they have dotted about Thailand. You’d think there wouldn’t be much technique involved in running as fast as you damn well can, but there is. Matt coached us today on three point starts, the drive phase, and arm motion. I was aiming to beat thirteen seconds and came in a tenth over on my best run. You only really get two shots at it, then you’re spent and have to call it a day.
He tells me his fee is 2,000 Baht. I nod, and he goes back to checking my forms. Shit, I should have tried to haggle him down. He was probably starting high and expecting me to negotiate. It’s not that it’s too expensive. I just hate when I don’t ask, when I don’t try. And now it’s too late. It will be weird if I speak up at this point. The moment has passed… Ah screw it, nothing to lose. “Did you say two thousand?”
Cheat day dinner is a lousy burger and pizza bread, but it’s quiet here and I have an hour to work. I check email to find one assistant having a hard time finding good writers, editing taking up too much of her time. I try to act on these things fast. If there’s a problem, make a decision, change course, but keep moving. I get recommendations for reliable writers on oDesk, create a new account and send her the login details.
We fool around while the cleaner’s in the next room. I can see her moving about through the fogged glass. We keep the noise down, but she must know, she has to know. Eventually we quit it and let her in to change the sheets. We make green smoothie and oatmeal mix then crash back to bed to watch a boy turn into Tom Hanks and back again. It’s the kind of Sunday dreams are made of.
She’s perfect, really. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Smart, adventurous, free-thinking, skeptical, brave, beautiful and incredibly sexy. I’ve thought about asking her to come with me at the end of the month, but I know I wouldn’t really mean it. I’ve got several more years of selfishness left in my bones, many things still to go and do with only myself to worry about. And though I know this, it’s going to be hard to leave her. She’s made me a better man.
“Everything here is complicated and works against you and it’s really hard to be successful. That’s a very common theme. Well, there’s another way to look at it: Thailand is the Special Olympics, and I’m an Olympic athlete coming to play, and I’ll run circles around all these people. I just gotta make sure they don’t lose face, and I gotta pick and choose which battles I want to fight. But if you come here and you know about business, it’s pretty easy.”
I walk into the copy shop across the street, where I first met Sarun. I’ve been waiting nearly forty minutes, called him three times, heard the same thing three times: “Five minute, five minute. I be there five minute!” The lady in the shop hooked us up, so I ask her to call him again. I’m getting worried. He has my passport. She calls him on a battered Nokia, hangs up in a blink and tells me, “Five minute, five minute. He be here five minute!”
“I write you ticket, and then we go police station and take license one month. One month no drive.” He has the smog mask on. I see his eyes and imagine his smile. That relentless, farcical smile. I’m tired and I’m hungry and I don’t want to play this fucking game. But I have no choice. I ask for an out. “Okay, I help you. My boss he crazy so he can no see, but I help you, I help you.”
It happens at almost every restaurant here. You go in, sit down, they bring you a menu… and then they stand there waiting to take your order, as if you will scan the thing in seven seconds and decide which dish you want. I tell the lady at the noodle shop that I’ll need two minutes. She responds with a nod and a kah and stays standing over my shoulder, pen and paper in hand, nare a bother on her.
It’s a Saturday night and we’re burger-bound under a crescent moon. Three bikes are coming the wrong way off the flyover as we ramp on. Strange. Suicidal even. At the apex there’s another bike pulled in tight to the guardrail, rider about to turn and signaling us to do the same. It dawns on me what’s up ahead. Shit. We slow to a stop and I tell her what’s about to happen. Then we turn and ride into oncoming traffic.
I try focus on my breathing. Deep breathing, the book said, that’s how you stay in control. But I’m fast approaching climax, not sure if I’ll be able to do this. She can feel my body begin to tense, every muscle tight. I clench and clench and clench as the waves crash and wash over me. Fuuuuuuuuck that feels good. And I’m left gasping. I check myself as the spasms subside. Holy shit, still dry! This might just change everything.
Clamber up onto the wall, walk to the end, drop down 1.5 meters, land firm on the balls of your feet. Do this fifty times, in the pissing rain, in a deserted park. Beyond that we practice rolls, first on the grass, ten each side. Then on hard marble, ten each side. You can tell pretty fast with the latter how good or bad your form is. And mine is bad. I’ll discover raw spots on my back and shoulders when I get home.
In the comments below, let me know which of the above is your favorite. Which can you relate to?