Dear Mae Sai,
You’ve been a hard pill to swallow.
Downward gazes and inside jokes.
Little pointing fingers followed by a wave of giggles as my floor-length dress with the slit down the side blows wild in the breeze,
trying to contain my runaway drapery,
maintain modesty in a border town where summer dresses don’t fly.
A voice cautions from the inside:
"You’re not in the islands anymore dear one.."
Om Namah Shivaya
I murmur steadily to myself repelling thoughts of “I just want to go home.”
There is no home, not outside in the physical world at least.
This here is a recurring theme.
Now I’m really traveling.
How dislocated will you become before you eliminate outside chatter,
and go to work paving the temple solace inside yourself,
the eternal home within the eternal om,
the exterior is irrelevant.
Oh Mae Sai,
soot and smoke bellow up from your belly
placing masks on the mountains at your back,
your wretched reflection glows unforgiving in the street.
Glorious, unpainted authenticity.
**** the farangs, they’re just passing through.
Smile til my face hurts,
it mostly makes no difference,
and then when I’m feeling so unwanted that I can’t hold back the tears,
you throw me curve ***** with every passing street.
A little Burmese babe with the brightest smile
still unsure of how fast her feet will carry her,
she dashes to my right and with the smacking sound of her lips
and the grace of her palm she blows me a kiss.
Thank you sweet one,
that’s just what I needed…
*'Farang' means 'foreign/foreigner' in Thai, derived from 'farangsayt,' which means 'French.'
During a failed visa run in 2016 I found myself stuck on the border of Thailand and Myanmar for several days in Mae Sai waiting for the Thai immigration office to reopen. It was uncomfortable and I cried for hours one day just sitting alone on a stoop, watching people struggle to make ends meet, very few people cracked a smile-- but the whole experience was incredibly therapeutic