Slow Learner – The Final Chapter
This is the third and final chapter in my tale. It begins where my time in Thailand and with my TGF is ending. You can catch the first two earlier in January, both under the nom de plume that seemed most apt at the time, Slow Learner.
With my time in Thailand ending, I was fortunate that my TGF at the time, who was in the States, had an apartment there to which I could return and she sent copies of my resume out to a lot of companies, etc., that were advertising on the web. So, I had a place to go to and, within a week of returning, gainful employment which, best of all, featured working from home and transferring files as needed on the internet.
We had a relaxed few months, for the most part, and did not talk too much about the fact that it was ending. After a few months I did have to move closer to work in New York City. She helped me find an apartment, in an Asia neighborhood, as I was busy with my new job. She visited me at times for the two months or so while I was in NY and she was completing her graduate degree, and then she went home after spending the last few weeks with me. That, like it or not at the time, was the end. TGF (number 4, but the longest lasting 2 years) was no more and I was in America.
The last time I returned to America, I only stayed a year before returning to Thailand to try again (and I took a month there during that year, which is how I found a job to go back there for). This time, though, I was more aware that pissing off to Thailand does not promote confidence in potential employers for professional positions, and I was also acutely aware of how little money I could make in Thailand (barring a miracle).
Frankly, I also felt an underlying sense of insecurity in trying to make it in Thailand again. It seemed to me, always playing at trying to do business there, that it is easy to go broke there and hard to find work in my field again, with no real social security net to back me up. If the chips were really down at some point, there really would not be any system in Thailand that would provide me any kind of assistance, or even a funded retirement plan. Can I teach English when I’m 85?
It was at this point that I made a decision that I would not dream of or try to live in Thailand anymore. This was a pretty tough decision to admit to or make.
Wow, at one point I had a real job and was doing well in a professional career path. Quite well actually. Add one divorce (with modest child support for 2 sweet kids who I hope will go to university), stir in a dose of Thailand, and at one point I actually ran a food stand on a little soi in Bangkok. Bit of a change in lifestyle and an interesting challenge to explain during job interviews. A hell of a good time, but not the best “career defining moment” on a resume.
What to do, what to do? It seemed to me that what I needed to do was to find a way to make having to live in Farangland more pleasant than I recalled it having been. Even when I was not in Thailand I was an ex-pat in another country for 6 years, and I never really wanted to live in NYC.
But that is where I ended up. I have a pretty good job. Stressful at times, but I work my own hours and the summers are fairly quiet. I am now making very good money, I started a retirement account (the last one I spent on dead business opportunities in Bangkok and on having a great time).
But, Thailand did ruin me for interest in Western women. I have nothing against them and there are a lot of great ones out there. Unlike in Thailand, I cannot rent any of them for the night, but I have also never met one whose family owned a sick water buffalo here either.
Back then (2001), it was still relatively easy to find women on the internet, and NY had a large pool on most websites (ICQ was still pretty good then too). And, NYC is 10% Asian. So I decided to try to find an Asian GF here. I ran searches on ICQ and I joined both Match.com and AsianFrienFinder.com (I hear none of these methods work as well now as they did then).
I started dating as soon as my ex-TGF left and I met quite a few women. Most of these were in their early to mid-thirties and this is one change from Bkk, where younger is still attainable, if only in our baht-fueled dreams and disasters. 30’s though, has other advantages. Closer age range, but still 10 or so years younger, more knowledgeable about what they want in life, etc.
Frankly, there are a lot of divorced Asian women out there. I met mostly Chinese, a few (2) Japanese, and two Thais (one in Bkk and the other on the West Coast of the States). I was able to get quite a few dates and had a few chat friends I thought of as potentials.
I can give you a tip on online dating though – take them to lunch. An evening with a poor match can be a painful experience and most restaurants and bars have windows in the toilets that are too small to crawl out of.
A month or so into my quest – and a quest it was as I knew I was passing my use-by date and did not want to bump the age range of the search group up to mine! – a woman I chatted with who asked for recommendations for places to live in NYC moved here and I met her for lunch.
Since she was a chat friend who I never anticipated meeting, I had told her all my Thailand tales. I would not personally recommend that to any of you – vague is good or you hear about it, even if only teasing, forever (or so it seems).
I “did lunch” with her after she moved to NY. I was intrigued when I met her – she is a small, cute, Chinese woman. Like another poster to Spike, she was the first one I ever went to a store in America with who tried on Size 1 pants and settled on a Size 0. Never knew they had those (in America, the average is now 12-14).
Anyway, I liked this one. We had lunch, then went and wandered around SOHO and the Village, then dinner, then a blues club, and I dropped her off via subway at around 1AM.
Now we are married. Like me, she has advanced degrees. Whereas I fled to Thailand to cope with my divorce (or to drink beer and have fun, which seemed to take up much more time than it took to flee!), she fled to America as a Visiting Scholar. We are alike in our flight, but now I am the local and my partner the ex-pat.
I took my wife to Thailand for a month to show her the land of my tales. Somehow, I managed to re-create many of them on the spot for her (all the little screw-ups you can make, like getting the day wrong and not meeting her at the airport – she found me shooting pool at 1am – impressed she could do that!!!!) and we had a great time there.
I have no regrets about all my screw-ups and the times I spent in Thailand. It was all a blast!!!
But, I need a real life, and it is not cooking the hot dogs at Disneyworld. As much as I did enjoy my Thai equivalent. I took a more normal path, given my life, and found a nice, normal Asian woman to walk it with. Her parents have no water buffalo and they slip her money for the plane tickets to come and see them. Neither of us are crazy about living here in NYC – they say the longer you live here, the more you love it (we just figure we must not have lived here long enough). But, I have my own little piece of Asia here and a nice apartment. I even have a connection for a bit of ganga, so I can get stoned and read the Stick, even if I cannot get stoned and create the new stories in Thailand that others will post here.
Life goes on, beyond or even, gasp, independently of Thailand. I fully believe that Thailand, unlike anywhere else, actually has the power to make people have to think twice to believe that. A most interesting phenomenon – Amazing Thailand.
I still go back every year. Eventually my wife will force me to go elsewhere, but maybe not this year?
And one parting shot. I have seen much advice and many suggestions on this site. I know not which to endorse, except this one:
Never bar fine a girl with wet hair.