Guidance and gratitude

Walking home from school on Thursday, I was thinking of my babies back in Atlanta. How much I miss pouring my heart into them, how my arms feel empty without them. An unexplainable, instinctual source of boundless love that used to flow freely, but is now searching for an outlet.

A small, old man sitting on a stoop interrupted my nostalgia, brought me back to Thailand. He started speaking to me in Thai and pointing, urgently motioning me to go to a house up ahead. I thought he was offering me food. But no one appeared to be waiting for me or welcoming me. I hesitated, thought of forgetting this mistaken man and continuing my walk, but first looked around. I saw a woman sitting on the ground, slumped between the doorway of her house, holding a baby. I looked back at the little man and he smiled. So I approached the woman, unsure of my intention, but feeling drawn towards the child and her love for him.

I had seen her before, on my walks home. Always sitting in the same place. Always wearing the same shirt, resembling stained glass with rich reds and blues and browns. With a wide, toothless grin and figs for cheekbones. Her fingernails like pieces of thick rotten wood chips, a palette of yellows and browns. Skin that glowed from the inside out.

I sat with her a while, both of us silent and smiling. She seemed to be relaxing into a state of awe and appreciation. In this moment, words were superfluous. I asked if I could hold her baby. He was strikingly calm, with slow movements, and though he seemed to be aware of the exchange, felt comfortable with me. Rested his head on my chest while looking back, fixing his eyes on his mother. My arms once again felt alive with the warmth of new life. From this life arises uncluttered consciousness, the depths of undiscovered possibility. Potential energy. I kissed him a few times and she seemed at ease, muttering something in Thai. Before going about my way, a most genuine kop khun ka and a resplendent smile that comes so naturally now.

Seemingly serendipitous events like this happen to me all the time here. Someone is always appearing to help me, to guide me. It’s as if I am thinking out loud. The Thais are in tune with my thoughts. At school, the children are more aware of my belongings than I am. I leave class, and halfway down the hallway realize I’ve forgotten my flash drive in the usb port of the computer. Something small and easily forgettable, which only I would notice. I turn around to go back for it, and three children are already running down the hall to meet me, flash drive in hand. I have had my water bottle, grammar book, clipboard and markers all returned to me by students, oftentimes before I even realized they were missing. One day, I was craving chocolate in the most desperate kind of way. I was thinking about how intensely I wanted some, but had no money with me nor time in between classes to get some. Seconds later, my second grader Tidaporn appears at my desk with an odd but delightfully satisfying tube full of chocolate and offers it to me. On the only day I don’t have time to eat breakfast, my teacher presents me with a homemade bowl made from stapled printer paper filled with slices of guava.


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