Clark Finkelstein, 130 TESS
It’s the little things…
Getting up to talk a walk on a lazy Saturday and being summoned to sit with a group of women on their porch. No talking necessary. Just watching the chickens and goats walk around. Laughing at the kids playing in the street. I always find myself spending time with new people.
Staying in on a Saturday night on Nhi’s floor eating fruit by the kilo watching K POP videos.
Waking up to see your front porch has transformed. It now is home to huge vats of various curries. There is a sheet and beautiful flower backdrop on the wall. Tables have been set up and everyone who passes by takes a seat to eat. It’s an engagement party. People stay up all night the weekend after talking and eating. At 9PM the older women pound on my door until I agree to come out and eat a second dinner with them.
Getting the usual few items from the town grocer and being told not to pay. This one’s on her. Then being handed some clams, more fruit, and geng som (Thai soup), just because.
Spending the weekend at home doing yoga, reading books, writing in my journal, talking on the phone with friends and family.
Feeling a sense of pride after hand washing all my clothes.
Because of an injured knee, having at least three food deliveries everyday handed to me through my window.
Resting my injured knee and my landlord coming over and setting up a chair next to me. No speaking. Just to keep me company.
Receiving surprise letters from people back home.
Having your first graders race to you the second you get to school, fighting over who gets to hold your hands.
Students coming to my door and rushing me to come to eat som tom (papaya salad) with them at a local stall.
Students escorting me to the local field to watch the high schoolers play soccer after school. Sitting in the grass eating ice to keep cool.
Being able to take a bus and simply spend a weekend on the islands.
Helping a co-teacher plan for her English exams and being told that working together and meeting was destiny. Being told I am appreciated even though at first she wasn’t thrilled to have to work alongside me.
Having a talk with that same teacher, a real talk about life, in English. Talking about something other than food and school. Forgetting for a moment that I am far away from home, friends, and family.
Finding out the day before that classes will be cancelled. Then being picked up on that day not knowing what we were doing or where we were headed. Ending up at the caves in Trang. Seeing such beauty that took my breath away.
Getting that monthly knock on my door when my landlord hands me food to keep me busy while she comes inside to change my bed sheets, not letting me help, telling me just to relax and eat.
Teaching a lesson and having most of your students fully understand, and even remember it the following day.
Spending a Saturday night cleaning and switching around the little furniture I have. Slowly making my apartment my own. Feeling at home. Feeling safe.
Hearing a group of ladies out front all continuously shouting my name until I come outside to be taken on a walk that lasts three hours (photoshoot included).
Hearing honking and being rushed outside and brought to the local market. Getting various foods, not being allowed to spend any of my own baht (Thai money), setting up a blanket and eating on the grass alongside the water and the sunset.
Read Clarkie’s previous article twenty-six.