“Decisions, Decisions”: A True Love Travelogue Series – Part 1

24 November 2012

I woke up a few minutes after 5 o’clock in the morning, as usual; save that there was nothing usual at all about that day. It was the day that would change my life forever.

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I felt really tired, and my back muscles ached from staying up late the previous night. I got up from my bed feeling dreamy, as if what transpired the night before was indeed just a dream.

It was his call over Skype that had awoken me, and while I knew he was telling me something important, I found it difficult to shake my sleepiness off. Less than five minutes into the video-call, my eyes had begun to droop again and his words were only a mumble-jumble to me.

“So I cut my hair”, I very faintly heard him say.

“You what??” I jolted.

“I asked my mom to cut my hair, see?”

“Why?!”, I exclaimed in panic.

“Because you wanted me to.”

“No!!!!”

“Cecille”, I could hear desperation in his voice. “I thought you said I will attract unwanted attention over there and you don’t want that”.

Now I do remember telling him that. “I don’t know…I don’t know…I liked your long hair. I’m not used to seeing you like that!”…I seemed almost a child, unreasonable. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted anymore. Confused, tears started rolling down my cheeks.

“Oh, Cecille, please don’t cry.” He was almost pleading. “I have to go now, okay? My parents are taking me to the airport. It will grow back soon, anyway”.

It felt really weird for him to be consoling me then. He was the one who had one foot of his hair cut off and yet he was the one who was trying to make me feel better. I know he was kind of “attached” to his hair. He’s had it long since he was 11 years old. Looking back to it now, I thought it was frivolous for me to even mention the haircut. Of course, I tell him I never forced him, I was  just…sayin’.

When we first started talking online, I didn’t really care about his hair. I thought it was hot and I was attracted to that mysterious side of him. As the day to our meeting drew closer, I became concerned. I think it must have been my conservative influence. Men with long hair are sometimes stereotyped as bad boys: wild and probably addicted to dangerous drugs! How ignorant does that sound?

Not all long-haired men are like that of course, but it was all about the image of it. I knew my family was going to meet him and I just wanted him to make a good first impression. I was like, “Who knows? We could end up getting married!” 😉 Little did I know, he was going to impress them anyway with his charms, his very polite demeanor and, as my father said, his outstanding table manners. But more on that later.

After sleeping a while longer, I got up to check my messages. I wondered if he’d left me anything before he boarded the plane. Boy, did he!

airchinanotification

“Great! That’s all we need”, I muttered.  A glitch right in the beginning of the two-week itinerary that we’ve been planning for months is a downer, I thought. My nerves were already wracked at the thought of seeing him, finally in the flesh, after four months of relentless correspondence. I was on the cusp of being stressed.

I waited until 8am for business hours to begin so I that I could speak with the hotel personnel regarding his reservation. He was supposed to arrive at 11 o’clock that night so I called the hotel to let them know that he would be arriving the next day instead. The unexpected detour in Alaska was going to delay his flight for 3 hours. This also meant that he was going to miss his Beijing to Bangkok flight, the last flight for the day. He was going to sleep in a hotel in China, alone, and catch another flight to Thailand on the following day. I could imagine how anxious he must be, travelling halfway across the globe for the first time, to places where he doesn’t speak the language, while encountering these mishaps at the same time. The horror!

I smile at the thought of him making that gesture to see me. I’ve got to admire him for being so determined. I was actually sad that I had to cancel the chauffeur service I had previously booked  to pick him up. I wanted him to at least be comfortable when he arrived, after all the stress of intercontinental flight. I asked the lady if they could move the booking for the following day but she said they were fully-booked. Oh well! I tried.

I decided to let the stress of the rescheduled arrival go. There was really nothing we could have done about it. I thought: it’s only one night. I was going to see him tomorrow. At 1pm, I went about with my other scheduled appointments: Last minute girly preps that, without getting into much detail, included a nail spa. I would later reap the fruits of my tortured labor when he says the very first words that came out of his mouth upon seeing me. 😉

It took me several hours to finish and when I was finally settled in the couch, checked my messages again. Lo and behold! He was online and was typing to me, possibly as fast as he could!

“I’m in China. We did not stop in Anchorage”

“What?!?”

“Will you be able to pick me up?”

“Uhhh…I changed my plans for the day. I’m here at my mother’s place”. Yeah, I forgot to mention that!

“……….” Nothing from him. It said he was typing.

“Oh!” He finally replied. Goodness! What was I doing?!? I must be freaking him out!

“Of course, I’ll pick you up!” I typed in haste. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do it in my condition.

“Okay. Boarding now. I’ll turn this off”, he said.

I sent a quick goodbye then his little green circle was gone. I exhaled in desperation.

Now what? Decisions, decisions.

I jumped up from the couch, picked up my backpack from the floor, and began packing haphazardly.

“Where are you going?”, my mom wondered.

Silence. You can almost hear the wheels turning.

“I have to go, Mom”, almost a whisper.

“Go where?”

“Back to my place”,

“But your foot!” Right! I forgot to mention that too. I had stepped on something earlier. I needed minor surgical intervention and my two feet were bandaged. Did I mention it was painful?  I’d been downing pain killers the whole day.

“I’m okay Mom, I’ll be fine”. She was observing me as I was cross-checking my stuff with my list in  hand.

“I thought you’re staying here tonight.” I didn’t respond.

“Just tell me what is it, okay? So I’d know.”, she prodded…I was worrying her.

“It’s Ian.  He’s arriving tonight.”

What ensued was an exchange between a worried mother and a stubborn daughter who will do what she wants, even against advice.

“Will you at least let your brother take you to the airport?”

……

……

……

For all of my life, my family and friends were always there to support me. I’ve always had people to consult with for all of the major decisions I’ve made. But as I said, it was not an ordinary day.

“No. I’m doing this on my own”.

I’d made up my mind.

TO BE CONCLUDED

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Piña Colada, Prose and Poetry: Parting Ain’t Pretty

It’s been 43 hours since Ian left. I am still not ready to face my life…my life in Thailand, to be exact.

My thoughts keep repeating: I don’t belong here anymore.

I am at the point where my reality feels unreal.

My real life is in my fiancé’s arms.

_________________________

I’m supposed to be cheery. This last visit marks the final leg of this K1 journey.  In a few months, I will finally be with my love for good. We will never be apart again. But I’m not exactly feeling like Missus Positivus today.

I don’t feel like doing anything. I’m blaming it on the fact that after 10 days together, I got so used to Ian being here. I wrote him a poem earlier and in it, I expressed my melancholy…

My darling…

It’s only hours from your departure

And even the skies in Bangkok

Cry tears of grief

Your absence has sucked

The life out of my city

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I know…I know…I can be overly dramatic sometimes. Or hormonal.

There’s something different about this last visit though, aside from (but possibly related to) it being the last. I feel like this time I am bluntly refusing to feel all of the agony of longing. I cried so much before Ian even left, so maybe that’s why I didn’t have any more tears to spill after coming back from the airport.

Ah! The train trip back to the hotel – always the worst part of Ian’s every visit.

This time, I managed to scribble a note aboard the coach:

Dear Ian,

It’s 9pm and you must be boarding your plane now. I’m at the basement level of the airport, waiting for the next train to arrive.

I am safe. Don’t worry about me (although that’s impossible for you not to do). I’m a big girl and I will take good care of myself-I can handle it. 

So this is it! We’ve come to the last leg …three exciting, exhilarating and extraordinary visits. We have definitely made tons of memories that will last a lifetime. I want to thank you, with all my heart, for everything you’ve done to make these visits possible. And of course, for all the things you did while you were here. You have made me feel very special in countless ways.

 

Absolutely special! Years back, I used to wonder: How do you know when the person you’re with truly cares about you and cherishes you? I never found the answers until I met Ian. I know now, even without putting so much though into it, I am truly deeply madly loved. I feel it in every word that comes out of his mouth, every little lazy croon of endearment, every single touch and breath…

I am secure.  He makes certain I feel that way every day.

On my end, I am equally and irrevocably in love with him, powerfully so.

Have you ever thought of being in, or staying in a relationship just for the sake of it? Have you ever felt like keeping it the way it is because, after all, it was a good-enough set-up for you?

It’s not the most wonderful thing in the world.  But some say, you won’t really know the difference until you are in a relationship where both partners are truly crazy and craves for each other, respects, trusts and values each other like they would themselves, admires  and adores each other and expresses said admiration and adoration for each other through words, actions, etc.  It’s elusive, this seemingly ideal thing I am talking about, but it’s not impossible to have it. It does happen to mere mortals like us. Once you have it, you’ll be wise enough to follow Christina Perri’s example:

I will be brave I will not let anything

Take away

What’s standing in front of me”

 The PA announced the train’s arrival to Makkasan Station…less than 13 days ago, Ian and I got off at this stop to go to our hotel. That place is special to us because it’s the same place we stayed the first time Ian came here. Being in its lobby, rooms and dining hall once more was reminiscent of our very first few moments as a couple…It was in this place that we first said the three little words that made us both the happiest people in the world that minute…

(more of this in TRUE LOVE TRAVEL LOGS…Coming Soon!)

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20 minutes after my departure from the airport, I was still sitting in the little corner I found inside the train. I kept writing:

“Your plane is probably flying back now. I pray for a safe flight for you my love. Know that I am always sending positive thoughts your way.

Darling, I already long for you, even though we were together only a few minutes ago.”

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It’s almost silly how I could miss him already when we were together only a few minutes ago. Silly, yes, but ironically it’s more sad than silly, how Farewells are.

You say goodbye with the promise that you will see each other soon…as if the promises will make it less painful. It doesn’t. But they give hope. It’s almost like grimacing a smile, or swallowing a bitter pill that you know would heal you and end your suffering…Thankfully, his farewell kisses (like the Pina Colada I had back when we frolicked on the beautiful island of Koh Samed), were sweet, full of promise, with a burst of salt from my tears…they were a reprieve.

“Parting is such sorrow, but your warm embraces and loving whispers are sweet sugar cubes to our otherwise bitter cup.”

But I know Ian and I know each other more than anybody else does. Our love transcends. I am connected to him and he is connected to me no matter how far apart: We are two photons entangled.

b-w photons I+W

“I am pressing my lips, savoring the memory of your last few kisses: quick but passionate still, urgent but not any less meaningful, a public display which yet delivers a secret only our two hearts will understand…”

Yes. I truly believe you my love. We will see each other soon.

TEN FLEETING DAYS and My After-Musings Part 4: Melancholic Reveries

 

February 25, 2013, 9:30 pm. I was back at the same exact station, but this time I was waiting for the train alone.

It felt like only just a few hours ago when the love of my life and I took the same railway going to the city proper.
Ian arrived to visit me again here in Thailand in the evening of February 15th. I met him at Arrivals and led him to the Airport rail link that took us to Ratchaprarop Station, approximately a 7-minute walk from Baiyoke Tower, where we were booked for the night.

As the passengers filled the car, Ian and I were all smiles, chuckling to ourselves in disbelief. We were in each other’s arms again! Our small corner inside the train echoed with our happy and excited chatter and my insistent inquiries about how his flight went. We were both grappling/vying for air time and oblivious to the world.

*******

Ten days later, as I sat solitary on one of the station benches, there was only silence and the hushed rolling and clicking of my 7-11-bought pen as my companion.

Imagining what I will return to, I was not looking forward to seeing the receptionist’s grouchy face in the hotel which had been our love nest for the past few days. His face could have been in a constant frown but it would definitely look happier than mine.

The PA announced the arriving train in two languages and I stood up to fall in line. As I took a seat, I looked back to our final minutes.

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I went with him to the airport to send him off. Outside the Passport Control (where only passengers can enter), we were saying our difficult goodbyes, exchanging promises and hastily uttered reminders (mine to Ian consisting mostly of repetitions to Take Care, Drive Safely Every day and Keep in touch). Right on cue, just like in the movies, an airline employee cuts in on our desperate last moments with a hand signal pointing to the clock/wrist watch as if to say “It’s time”.

Great! Make it easier for us.

Either he was just doing his job, or grossed out, or jealous of our blatant public display of affection. I was never big on PDA but with Ian and especially right at that very moment, the world around us had ceased to exist and I was shameless.
It was just he and I in our own perfect little world.

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I let go of Ian and he stepped onto the elevator that took him to the final security checkpoint and immigration. He never looked away from me-we kept mouthing our I LOVE YOUs until he was out of my sight.

Wow! So that’s it? Lea, Ian’s sister, was right. Those 10 days flew by so quickly. Of course, we both knew his visit was going to end but it didn’t change anything: the pain of separation is always the same. It’s as if the heart was torn from the chest because it follows the one you love, as Ellena, my future mother-in-law, had put it.
No matter how many times I said goodbye to Ian, I never got used to it. This feeling is only relieved when I see him again.

See him again… I had no idea when the next time would be and that made it all the more depressing for me. But before I could break down for a crying spree, a thought struck me:

Isn’t the Immigration Services right behind the glass wall in front of me? I remember from my recent Singapore trip that the Passport Control Section in Suvarnabhumi Airport was renovated in such a way that passengers have to take the escalator going up to some sort of boarding pass check, and then take an escalator down to appear before the Immigration officer.

*******
I rushed to see if I could get lucky and actually get a glimpse of Ian. My mind was racing, heart pounding, desperate for that one last goodbye. I positioned myself where there was a good view of the escalator and of the passengers going down. I didn’t want to miss him. Just moments later, he came through- in a hurry and with no time to look around him. He had a mission, to catch his plane. He didn’t bother to explore his surroundings. I was so desperate to catch his attention that I began tapping on the glass walls almost futilely. Then, with a bit of luck, a seemingly cordial middle-aged man behind him saw me and so I signaled to him to call Ian’s attention. He was kind enough to oblige and said something to Ian that made him turn his direction towards me. Seeing me unexpectedly lit his face up and my heart leapt for joy. Ian politely thanked the man and again started whispering his muted I love yous. I silently whispered back. Ian placed his hand on the left side of his chest. It is his way of telling me “Cecille, you’re in my heart”.

I know I am. It makes it seem all the more wrong for me to be sitting on a train back to a hotel room while Ian was set to fly thousands of feet above the ground. Moments ago, I was a woman loved and cherished by my man who was beside me. As I head back to Central Bangkok on my own, all of a sudden, I became a little girl again, caught in my melancholic reveries,and the city felt far too big for me.

******

I was now a station away, and as I readied my train pass, I caught sight of the ring on my finger; now, Ian’s words echoed in my brain… “Whenever you feel sad and lonely, look to this ring and know I am always with you. We will be truly together soon, I promise”.
I desperately tried to suppress my sobs until I unlocked what used to be OUR room. As I pushed open the door, the scents of our frolicking filled my nose-remnants of Ian’s loving, comforting and reassuring presence not too long ago. Oh, dear God, I miss him already.

And that’s when the dam broke.