The other side of the world returned me plagued by post-nasal drip and an elderly hack in my throat.
Almost two weeks ago I boarded a plane that would fly, 17 hours direct, to Bangkok. This was my first time in southeast Asia. The purpose: business need not be separate from pleasure. The air in the city was naseous with pollution. Despite it, I enjoyed a swank hotel with staff who treated me like royalty, solid gold Buddhas, ornately architectured temples, mystery food, karaoke, elephants, a sword fight, jackfruit, Singha, and many a taxi ride with silent drivers. The rest will remain secret to the public what has already been exposed in private pockets.
From comfortably warm to bite cold, I am back on America's east coast, pelleted by snow and ice like sand in the face and testy piles of brownish white that keep my car from going forward. Some people standing by laugh, some help to push; some do both.
And Valentine's Day has passed. During the angsty era I dishonored this day with black clothing and grim face. Post-angsty era, I just ignored it. This year I realized something: I don't care for the holiday. Its candy hearts and ridiculous teddy bears in support of one's love for another that should be active throughout the rest of the year anyway I find to be silly. Nevertheless, in the past years, when I've stubbornly resisted honoring the day, I felt myself stubbornly resisting the holiday instead of truly not caring. Social conditioning, I suppose. With preface, I requested the especially loved one's presence but with no streamers of goofy chocolates. Another weight lifted, psychocyst dissolved.
A few days ago a woman at work suggested our mini-fridge wasn't working, arguing that the temperature should be at 32 degrees and not at the upper 40-something it was at. I thought a second. No. 32 degrees is freezing and, thus, more appropriate for the freezer. The next day the baked tofu and soy yogurt I'd brought to work were frozen. The yogurt was tasty in this condition, the tofu not so much. Usually, I consider the fridge woman to be smart, down-to-earth. Maybe this wasn't her field of expertise, or maybe she was just having an off moment. Then it occurred to me that such a situation might be confirmation of not only the benefit but also the necessity of sharing one's life with another, and in the same household--so the significant other can see the refrigerator is set too cold.
This morning as I attempted to drive home from my especially loved one's abode, my car's wheels just spun in the snow and I got no further than half-way out of the parking spot. I couldn't get out and push and drive at the same time. Another situation calling up the necessity in this case of having another person close by, in this case the neighbor who happened to be walking by. I'd have sat there spinning snow all day if not for another person.
In Bangkok, another person traveling with me may have made the trip richer. I say this as a person who both wants and needs very much time alone. I enjoy seeing a movie by myself, seeing live music by myself, reading for hours entirely in solitude. I also like traveling by myself. However, the times I saw something I wanted to share with somebody, and couldn't even share it with a stranger because, at least in several instances, nobody around me spoke the same language as me, began to feel lonely. Not agonizingly so, just something to notice.
The flipside of not being able to share at the time is that observations gestated until I wrote them down and, then, experienced them again in a new way and made them more permanent.
Nevertheless, the close presence of another person bears light and forward motion, a multi-faceted view and act.