We're up early. Some of life's best conversations happen late into the night and early before the dawn. This trip is no exception. It's hard stuff we're working through, but we love each other better for it, and that's all that matters. I'm touchy-feely, always have been. I need people like I need water. And I need these people.
Pad Thai and Milk Tea, too much coffee. My head is starting to revolt. I'm becoming familiar with the routine. Daniel is here and our van is outside. The drive is becoming rhythmic and my sense of belonging returns as we leave the city behind, but my head is arguing something different altogether.
There is passion and fierce story telling while we all sit on the floor. My head on someone's shoulder, in someone's lap, punishing me for some unknown slight. The Burmese is lulling me into a dream state. Lovely and textured. The young men across from me are intent into the story as I am intent in my dreaming. There are babies at my shoulder and hip, crawling across my lap and playing with my earrings. They are healing. This is healing.
Criss cross apple sauce. My head is still pounding, but the smiling faces and women inquiring about me have my spirit up even though my body is down. People touch me and play with my hair and eventually someone sets a can of aloe and peach juice along with a styrofoam container. Inside is magic. Even just breaking the chopsticks apart makes me feel better. The noodles are every bit of restoration I've ever needed and the aloe is the perfect thing for lazy hydration skills.
Snuggled up, breathing deeply, our conversations are good. Our afternoon is full of more debriefing. We can't nap because it might send our jet lag into overdrive. We want to sleep at night. So we talk about anything and everything. We are building up and breaking down and reconstructing our friendships, our ideals, our perspectives. It is good.
We wander the streets. We wander into a Hindu temple, full of vibrant colors. I rack my brain for the pieces of information I have. Back to the streets, we make our way through alleyways. We find the church Becca spoke at two years ago. Two years seems like a lifetime and no time. I like the way the city comes alive in the dark. Heat things up and everyone comes out at night. There are creatures on the walls and people pressed together. We hire bikes to take us to the Chinese Night Market.
They take us. Our bicyclist smoking a cigarette and cussing and laughing with the city aglow up above us and the traffic zipping by. We pass the palace, still in ruins, but supposedly being renovated. It's haunting and lovely. Our cyclists whip down blocks, but they don't know where they are going. They stop and ask strangers. I can't stop laughing.
The night market is alive. We eat pomelo and wander past Chinese temples. There are crickets and cotton candy being biked down the lane past tables. Discovering a street restaurant that looks like we probably won't die of food poisoning, we take our chances.
We pick from the array and place our choices in suspicious looking baskets. We decide the meal is probably worth dying for. We are right. We laugh a lot and drink the lightest beer known to man kind. The man beside us tells us that the caps are a lottery and tells us to buy more bottles. We don't win. And we don't buy any more bottles. Becca and Ross discover ABC Stout instead. There are beggars here. We haven't seem any until now. There are more white people on this street than we see on the rest of the trip combined.
We give our left over whole sticks to some of the kids wandering around asking for change. A little girl in full make up takes my charred beef. I want to take her home with me. I smile and touch her shoulder lovingly instead. A group of ab clad young men are doing circus tricks on the side of the street. This is not a dream. Hardcore Parkour. We walk back to the hotel. Ross and I talk as loudly as possible to each other and skip over broken stones. I save his life a minimum of twice from stray cars. Becca finds a cat and befriends it.
We are debriefing again. There is so much to take in. There is so much to discover. We are happy and exhausted. Highs and lows, delirious bedtime antics, eyes closed. Another day already gone.