[Archive] Day 89: Do palm and pine feel the cold?

Three months have come and gone,

With Halloween left and Thanksgiving on.

I slipped into flip flops, dressed myself in chiffon,

walking out this morning, feeling the breeze upon

my hair, my face and all around.

This 22-degree day in Yangon,

is the best thing I could ask for, this holiday season and beyond.

Nov. 21, Yangon

I’ve had a physically- and emotionally-draining few weeks, as I could assume you might have as well. Part of the grind could attribute to a collective experience, shared by others, with verbal support and extension of understanding. But despite the collectedness and scale of the issue, for the most part, it felt as if a much more solitary journey. And it probably was. Feelings are unique to one’s own and interpretations vary. Allies and companions help, sometimes, but certain roads are meant to be taken on alone.

This morning, finally feeling back on my usual track for the first time in weeks, presented me a wonderfully pleasant surprise: when I left home for work on just another Monday morning, I sensed the long-needed yet so distant coolness in the air.

Winter is coming.

To Yangon, that means 68-degree Fahrenheit in the mornings. Yet I could not help but have a huge grin on my face.

I remember dressing up as a panda in my black boots for one Halloween years ago, and sweating through my costume on that 80-degree-Fahrenheit night in Dallas. I remember walking through a parking lot in Chicago on my way to a Thanksgiving dinner, trying to hide my little presence in my big black parka against the brutal wind from the Lake. But I’m far from seeing it all. At least not until now, when I put on a skirt and sandals every morning in Yangon, despite it being the last days of November.

This is a bizarrely wonderful city. Yangon is, with traps and challenges and a lot more to offer than I ever asked for, or expected. Meanwhile, it has its fair share of inconvenience and frustrations, occasionally too much for me to handle. When those moments happen, I choose to lie down on my bed, think of a way that could cheer me up: sometimes it’s a good meal. Sometimes it’s a good friend. More often it’s both.

Twice last week, my roommate called my struggles “white people problems,” a running joke that is in most cases appropriate, and in some, not so much, but always a funny comment for two developing countries’ kids who happened to have received higher education in the West. Once was because I burnt my leg by motorcycle exhaust, an accident that he just could not believe happened to someone who spent most of her childhood getting motorcycle injuries (none of which involved burning) and learning her lessons in China. The second time was when I witnessed a massive ant outbreak on my bedroom rug, and in great panic I started banging on his door at midnight for moral support.

I’ve recovered since (seeing schools of ants climbing up your toes to your ankle really is something that takes time to recover), and thought of the situations somewhat hilarious ex post facto. But a large part of me do not wish to revisit these memories ever again, though I know this world I now reside will allow me no such guarantee.


All the above paragraphs, except the very last sentence, were written on the day of Nov. 21, 2016, my 89th day in Myanmar, or 18 days after the U.S. presidential election result announced. For reasons I could no longer remember, I wrote what I did, but decided not to publish it, leaving it in my draft box indefinitely, until now.

This is not rare. Like just about everyone who writes, I write mostly for practice, merely flexing muscles. The words I write that others get to see here or elsewhere only make up a small portion of what I jot down. I do the same thing that a relentless baseball player does, swinging his bat thousands of times, with the hope that the one at his next game may be a good one. I know better than anyone else that not everything I produce is worth sharing. I’m lucky that some of it is.

I decided to bring this one out of my draft box, which is a rare occurrence, because it reminded me the feeling I once had of getting stuck knees deep in the marshland, and was too tired to act happy when I got that hint of escape. It reminded me of the motorcycle exhaust burn, which now that it’s been a month, I’ve completely forgot about. What once to be a blistering, disgusting sight has turned into an almost invisible scar thanks to all the swimming in the salt water at Ngwe Saung. Most importantly, it reminded me of the bad, and how the bad will eventually get better.


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