Stickman Readers' Submissions December 23rd, 2004

Moving Onward

My company transferred me to Bangkok for a two-year assignment that began in 1996. I was the company’s golden boy having risen to the higher echelons and was rewarded with this plumb assignment. I was paid handsomely and lived quite well along
the Chao Phraya river near the Sheraton Hotel. They even gave me a company car with driver. I lived in a large flat with all the amenities including daily maid service. I had never lived in such luxury before but I adjusted to it quite well. I
look back with fond memories because now I’m living in just the opposite conditions back in my homeland of the USA.

I settled into my new position and living in Bangkok easily. The work wasn’t that difficult and since I was the head of the office, I could come and go without answering to anyone. Life was good. I quickly engaged in the allures of the naughty
nightlife Bangkok and Pattaya had to offer. After a while of this my enthusiasm was waning and I found myself tapering off on my lust for Thai women of the working variety. It was over these initial months in Bangkok that I met Ta. She worked
for a British based company that had an office in the same building in which my offices were located. She was a stunner about 20 years my junior. I was 46 at the time. When we would meet in the elevator or corridors we would exchange pleasant
smiles and soon afterwards we began to greet each other in both English and Thai (my Thai is very limited). I soon discovered that she spoke excellent English and held the equivalent of an MBA degree. After about two months of these chance meetings,
I invited her to coffee at a nearby Starbucks. This started what later became a relationship from hell that I never imagined myself getting into in a million years. I was always fleet of foot when it came to avoiding marriage. Well, one thing
led to another and before long I was enjoying all of Ta’s attributes to the fullest. Needless to say, she was very skilled in bed and on many occasion she would exhaust me and wouldn’t stop pushing me for more.

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Within six months, Ta moved in with me. I met her parents and family, and spent some pleasant times with them all. They were all well educated and lived well above the middle-income range of the Thai culture. As the end of my assignment came close, Ta
and I began talking marriage. She said she loved me deeply and would gladly move to the U.S. to live with me. Two months before I was transferred back to Los Angeles, we got married in the traditional Thai manner. I paid a handsome dowry and covered
the cost of the reception that included a cast of hundreds. It set me back a good penny, that’s for sure.

The day of departure came and after a tearful farewell to her family and friends, Ta boarded the United Airlines flight with me and we settled into business class for the trip to our new home in the States. Shortly after arrival, I purchased a home in
Pasadena for more than I expected to pay. Ta fell in love with the house and insisted I buy it. When we moved in, Ta and I settled in for the long haul of blissfully happy married life. Things went well for a while. Ta met some Thais living in
the area and that made her happy. However, I sensed that with the passing of each week she was becoming less and less happy living in LA and missing her family and friends back in Bangkok more and more. I sent her home to visit for a month and
missed her terribly. When she returned we got a bit careless and nine months later I was the father of a beautiful daughter. Eleven months later, I became a father of another girl. Call it post-natal depression or whatever, but after the second
child was born Ta seemed to lose interest in taking care of either child, and certainly lost interest in taking care of me, if you know what I mean. This put a lot of stress on me trying to hold down my job and keeping my family well, paying a
hefty mortgage and without the physical loving I desired and needed from the woman I married (this was my first marriage). I was losing steam. Arguments became more and more frequent. Division of labor to take care of two toddlers and a home was
non-existent with me doing most if not all the work. I finally had to hire a nanny.

The nanny took care of the children problem but it also freed Ta to come and go as she pleased. There were times when she would disappear for a couple of days and then return and tell me she went to Vegas or Palm Springs with one of her Thai girlfriends.
I tried to be adult about it and merely asked her to inform me of these trips in advance. She didn’t say anything. The frequency of these disappearances increased to the point where I had to put my foot down. This turned out to be a bad
move. After a hellacious argument one night that nearly came to blows, I was at the end of my rope. I didn’t know what to do. I went to the office the next morning in a rather agitated mood. The demands on my home life had taken a toll
on my professional life. My boss had counseled me several times in the past to keep home and office separate, but as things got worse at home things fell apart at work. I was given the sack that morning. I didn’t blame him. I sensed it
was coming. I merely wasn’t pulling my weight at the office anymore.

I spent that afternoon at my favorite watering hole before going home. After a good number of Scotch’s I stumbled home to learn from the nanny that Ta had packed up most of her clothes and left shortly after I left for the office. She didn’t
know where she went. In a boozed induced daze, I managed to call a friend who had urged me to hire a private investigator in the past when Ta started the disappearing acts. This time I engaged one. As it turned out, it didn’t take the guy
long at all to find her. Within days he found her in San Diego living with an American man closer to her own age. To make a long story short, I eventually found out that she had been having an affair with the guy for nearly a year.

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Well, things ran their course. We got divorced. I got custody of two young girls since Ta had expressed no interest whatsoever in them. I won’t reveal all the gory details about divorce California style, but I came away hit pretty hard in the wallet.

So there I was. Divorced, unemployed and with two toddlers on my hands. I had to move in with my parents outside of Chicago so my mother could help with the children while I looked for work. I eventually found a job in St. Paul, Minnesota. The pay is
less than half what I was making at my former job and I’m starting at the bottom with a new company competing with hot shots half my age. My girls are still with my parents until I can situate them in a childcare facility here. I’m
trying to find a house to buy but real estate is rather expensive despite the fact that this is an artic environment. Besides, I no longer have that comfortable nest egg to help with the down payment. At the moment, I’m living in a one-bedroom
unit in an apartment complex. It’s small but it meets my basic needs. I lost my interest in maintaining my fitness and put on 30 pounds. Cigarettes are back in my life. Empty bottles of Scotch are usually found on the kitchen counter or
the end table in the living room. My car is a top of the line Mercedes Benz disguised as a 1992 Honda Civic. My current girlfriend looks strikingly like my right hand. Once a week I treat myself to dinner at a fine restaurant that is camouflaged
to look like MacDonald’s. Any expectations of finding a woman to share the remainder of my life are rather slim. What can I expect at my age with two small girls to rear, a lousy job, nothing in the bank, no assets, and no retirement fund.
I don’t think any woman with any sense would be attracted to me in my present state.

I’m slowly getting back on my feet. I don’t curse the day I went to Thailand to live and work. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s just sad that it turned out the way it did. I am bitter, but that will pass in time. Ta is a
product of her culture. A culture I failed to understand at the time. While I do think poorly of her, she did give me two beautiful children. My priorities in life are now to the girls. Nothing else really matters now except their welfare. Maybe
Ta would like to see them someday. Personally, I don’t think she gives them a second thought. Her family certainly doesn’t seem to. They quickly lost interest in them after the divorce. That hurt a lot. I half expected the grandparents
to show some love towards their grandchildren. Seems it’s not to be. I do want the girls to retain bonds to Thailand. As they grow older I’ll commit myself to that end. Moving onward in life.

Stickman's thoughts:

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I was in two minds about putting this up online just before Christmas. This is horribly depressing, it really is.

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