Elizabeth Marik, 129 YinD
Dear Mom and Dad,
Everything here seems to grow a little faster than usual. Longan trees are entirely beheaded, cut down to their thickest branches, and yet grow long green leaves and buds barely a month later. Even the papaya tree in my front yard that was chopped in half is starting fresh with new growth right where it was sliced off. I wish I knew more about biology and plants to understand it all, because it really is astonishing. Half of every space I enter is mostly outside. Home, work, coffee shops, everywhere has outdoor seating or open air kitchens and offices. Walls seem optional. All is left vulnerable to the sheer amount of life here. Mice crawl in my ceiling (nothing is poetic about that, I should probably get rid of them) and the street dogs gather en masse to howl at nothing but their own asses at promptly 10pm every night. Geckos make their own doorways through the cracks in the wood between my walls and ceiling to come and go as they please. As a result of being surrounded by all this green I’ve become obsessed with painting plants, leaves, and branches. So much so that the wall space above my head when we FaceTime mirrors the view outside my bedroom window. It’s thick with bright growth. I think I’ve tried to duplicate my outdoor environment in order to catch up with the wild I see everywhere else. It almost feels like a post-nuclear landscape where instead of annihilation everything has mutated, and we need to fight our way through overnight vines just to leave our homes every morning. I could make a parallel to my own extreme growth about how since I’ve last written in this blog I’ve been to Cambodia, visited home, and learned what loving myself is like; all resulting in internal growth. But it kind of feels like an Eat Pray Love-type perspective switch, which I try not to externalize too much for the sake of beating a dead cliche even deeper into the ground. But there is a bit of legitimacy to it still–the story arc of being your own personal heroine on a solo trip through an atypical path to come out more wise and self aware. Pop culture is littered with stories like that! And you know I’ve absorbed them since I was a child, being obsessed with Angelina Jolie movies and identifying with the outsider (not that Jolie is an outsider, but you get it.) She, and the heroines of the other stories I’ve loved, end up making an impact on the world around them, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Although it is hard to deny that my ambition has mutated into a desperation to tap into the roots of the wildly growing life around me, everything I learn from my Thai friends goes back to jai yen-yen (a popular saying which means slow the eff down) and be chill chill. So how do I integrate this far reaching growth, coded to cover every physical inch around me, and my expectation for where internal growth will lead based off of what I’ve been taught about self-discovery? Do you two remember what it was like to be in the doubt of emerging adulthood? To not know what the next steps will be? You are both transplants from large midwestern cities to small town Wisconsin. Now that I am halfway through my Peace Corps service, I should be thinking more seriously about what I want to do next. To be honest, I have no idea. I kind of want to come back to America for a little bit and maybe live in Chicago or DC. But what would I do there besides buy artisanal coffee and complain about the current administration? Should I live abroad again? Yet I’m really trying to do something that shows I have value beyond my nationality and native language. How did you two, as young parents with new careers in a small town with no friends and connections, embrace your explosion in growth to produce a new life for yourselves? Help your girl out!
To read more from Elizabeth check out her blog at ELIZALAND.