UMM Thailand Ch. 6: Don’t compare the you of today to the someone else of tomorrow.
Mary was busy warning everyone that Chiang Mai was coming up, collecting plates, and making sure everyone had their belongings. Charlie felt even a little left out and said, thankfully only in his own head, But after all that we’ve been through? This is the sendoff I get? Do you no longer love me?
The idea that he said it to himself was reason enough to think that he felt it a little, but it also reminded him that he needed to now play his role. She had done her job, she had delivered the receipt and told him what he needed to know. Charlie immediately tried to feel stronger and more independent.
“Ready?” his wife was again at his bunk. He needed to get down and get into action.
In a matter of seconds, as if superimposed on the curtain across from him, a selection of some of the words from the receipt floated up and away like a Ken Burns screen saver.
Red checkerboard, like a picnic table.
Show her what she cannot see.
No bank heists. No mention of the Thai mafia. Zero undercover agents. Probably no life-threatening killers.
A girl, tomorrow, something about a checkerboard, and showing her what she cannot see.
Did all superheroes begin like this? Maybe before they made it to the big time, they started out with the simple stuff: cat out of tree, stop nine-year-old candy bar shoplifter, show a girl in Thailand what she cannot see.
I want to talk to the boss about this! he again thought, but this time a little too close to out loud. But as soon as he said it, he knew it wasn’t what he truly meant. It was as if he were saying these things to impress someone else, as if to fulfill this role as soon-to-be superhero, but when he got down to the core of it, he immediately admitted that he felt only bashfully grateful that somehow had been chosen to do whatever it was that he was being asked to do.
He helped Lu find his underwear, he forced a banana into his older son’s hands, and got his family off of the train as they pulled into Chiang Mai. What started as blue ink snaking through a receipt quickly turned into a day of incessant heat and sweating, settling into the hotel in the old town, night bazaars, and a spicy hot green curry that was quite possibly the best dish he had ever tasted. Heaven served up in a coconut shell, sprinkled with colorful peppers, for less than the price of a latte back home.
Although he remained on the lookout for a girl, a checkerboard picnic table, he remembered that it wasn’t yet tomorrow. Later on in the hotel, his bed didn’t rumble and the train track soundtrack was replaced with crickets and geckos, the hum of air conditioning, and swirling thoughts of what tomorrow might bring.