Becoming That Guy

The midpoint of my Thailand beach trip was a travel day, taking me by shuttle then bus then ferry from Ao Nang to Kho Phangan:

coast to coast: Andaman Sea in the morning, fields of palm and rubber trees in the afternoon, Gulf of Thailand in the evening  

coast to coast: Andaman Sea in the morning, fields of palm and rubber trees in the afternoon, Gulf of Thailand in the evening  

That night, on the twisting two lanes of Koh Phangan's legendary treacherous roads, I saw a family of three on a moto. I've encountered this many and more passengers on two wheels a thousand or more times in SE Asia, and the first time I was astounded. Equally so the second and third and for quite a while. Now it's as common to me as cheap street food in Krung Thep.

That's when it hit me: what I've found to be so extraordinary and foreign may be what's normal.*

"What are you lookin' at? Freak."

"What are you lookin' at? Freak."

And I laughed.

A little Birdy asked me why. I told her (in first draft terms) it's the laugh that comes when my heart overflows with joy at the dozen realizations each day that this is my life. That I'm accumulating fortune beyond money and education beyond degrees. That places and experiences I hadn't even known how to dream of back in Ballard damned County Kentucky are now Mine.  

And more are waiting to be claimed.

I remember being back on my model home bedroom floor not so many months ago, high a.f. and as usual, conversing with those guys I was in the past--iterations of Jamie and J.L. and James, each hurting and feeling less than. Over days and weeks they would appear at left in my mind's eye. I listened to them, one by one. I sometimes debated with them, showing them the truth--that they really were good enough. Sometimes tears would fall. Finally I'd put my arm around them and thank them, since we wouldn't be where we were without each and every one of them.

All of us got me here.

On one of those days, I looked from left to right, out the rear bedroom window. In the distance I saw That Guy. I could see he was older, but not by how much. He had more grey in his beard, and a few more wrinkles around his eyes brought on by sunsquinting or smiling, perhaps. He looked like a guy with stories.

"So you're me, eh?" I asked.

He nodded. I figured he wouldn't be able to tell me much. Plus Back to the Future taught me of the dangers in these interactions.     

"So," I said, having some new awareness, "it's not going to be easy getting from me to you, is it?"

And he laughed. I did, too.

"But we're good?"

He nodded and grinned, then turned. Walked away.

"Okay." I said. And I let go a little more.


*Versus a world with families of four living in 3,500 square foot McMansions, where people drink $6 coffees and complain that their four-year-old Lexus doesn't have the whistling bells that Harry down the street has on his and that their four-year-old Alexis doesn't get enough attention at her five-figure pre-school--that's what's abnormal.