Stickman Readers' Submissions May 22nd, 2013

Our Journey Comes To An End: My Wish For Her

My story crosses the expanse of several years. I have always wished the best, however sometimes there are no words that can explain what is supposed to be natural. I write this as a message in a bottle throwing it into the ocean of the Internet. Perhaps an answer will come. In any case it helps to just write about my experience. In some cases what was hoped to be something great does not go as expected. I begin with the journey taken, and at the end there are questions many may have also struggled. This may help some. One ending is just the next step in a new beginning.

It always seems the simplest of things are the most complex in relationships, and at the same time when all the pieces work in unison, happiness takes flight.

He Clinic Bangkok

It has been five years since we met….I wish I could use her real name. Her name is fitting and cute. However, I know she is a conservative person and I respect her modesty. Let’s say her name is Sumalee for this story. The first year I wrote Sumalee she was very polite and always wrote nice letters. It was like having a pen pal, no pressure, just enjoy learning about each other. Sumalee worked for an American pharmaceutical company in Thailand as a manager in research and development. She was excited about her work. Her co-workers were also some of the best she had worked with and she enjoyed the time with them. I was also impressed that she was taking care of her two nieces as their parents had passed away in a car accident. As a young person not many years out of college it was a big responsibility taking care of half grown children while at the same time starting out in her own life and career. I have always respected those who try to do good for others.

Sometimes I took a while to write back, but she always checked in. She encouraged me to keep going. It was nice to have someone who was there on the other end even though it was on the other side of the planet, oceans apart. Her messages spanned a week or two, or more sometimes. It was always nice when her words came once again to make the day bright. She was reliable in that way.

The first year went by. She changed jobs, I changed jobs, and then the world economy went into a downward spiral. We still had our messages. I thought I should explain my situation more clearly just to be honest and clear. I explained sometimes in life things don’t work out like they are planned and dreamed. I had wished for a long time things were different, but I knew after many years and trying to change things that some things just don’t change. I have two wonderful children which I would do anything for. I wanted the best for them because my childhood was not easy. I lost my parents when I was young. That is a long story for another time. I would not want to change my children’s ideal life for my own wants.

CBD bangkok

However, for many years I have tried to forget my own wants and desires. Just try to focus on the smiles of my two kids. But as I lay in bed alone I am reminded about what I keep trying to forget. Day after day I miss having that person who is my partner in life, that sweet affection, kindness which makes life inspiring. After my son was born, my wife changed. From that time on it has been like we are roommates. We have not slept together for over 15 years.

Sumalee gave me hope, at least a person I could talk to. After I explained everything, I thought that would be the end of the messages. She was very gracious and said she can accept me because she likes my personality and I am kind to her.

As time went on I felt more relaxed and our messages had more depth and closeness. It was nice having someone who missed me and that I missed even in the form of messages. We sent each other music cards. From time to time I would send flowers, stuffed bears, chocolates, and care packages.

One day to my surprise she sent me a gift. I was very happy since it was something she had made by hand and I know all the time it took besides the cost of shipping something international. It was out of the ordinary and touched me very much.

wonderland clinic

I had changed jobs one more time. This time I moved to California to work for a Japanese company. I was on my own during the transition since my house needed to be sold and I wanted my kids to finish the school year with their friends before they made the move. So I was on my own for about 6 months. Through this time Sumalee was sending letters more frequently keeping my spirits up. She would call me from time to time and it was nice hearing her voice.

I started to think I must see this person who has always been there over the years. I was not sure how to start. I knew I only wanted to see her, but it was a big risk to go all the way to Thailand without any other plans. I suggested to her we take a vacation together, so we both can enjoy relaxation time. She was happy to travel together. She has an adventurous side when it comes to travel, and has dreams of traveling to many international places. Her dream at the time was to travel to Singapore. Singapore is like a second home to me with all the trips I had made there on business. So I said I would take her to Singapore. I also wanted to see more of Malaysia and made plans to stop off at Langkawi Island on the way.

After several weeks of planning the places and activities for the trip, I bought my ticket. Upon arrival, Sumalee was waiting with a face full of smiles. I had been worried whether we would recognize each other. However, it was natural, like we had met before. We had sent pictures over the years and talked so much already. As with most international flights they get in late in the evening and the time was just past midnight. We still had to drive two more hours to Ayutthaya where she lived. By the time we arrived at the hotel it was after 2 AM. She was concerned about getting home at that time so she stayed with me the first night.

Before we slept I gave her the gifts I had brought. One was a Japanese anime character stuffed animal which I knew she liked. Another was a dozen heart shaped chocolates from France.

Sumalee had to go to work in the morning so I had the day to relax and look at the history of Ayutthaya. The hotel staff was very kind. One of the girls at the coffee shop seemed eager to speak some English and suggested places for me to go see. I asked if there was a motorcycle rental place and she offered her motorbike for a small fee. While I was out at the temple I found some beautiful white flowers and some red tropical like flowers, the nameof which I don't know. I made them into a small design that fit nicely into a container and gave them to Sumalee when she came after work.

Sumalee had a nice evening planned with her good friends. It was a dinner at some place near a lake. It was fun talking with her friends as they joked a lot and where very outgoing.

Saturday morning we are off to catch a flight out of Bangkok to our first destination, Langkawi Island. I had always wanted to stay in one of those hotels where they have the villa rooms that stand on stilts over the ocean and you can watch the colorful fish through a glass panel in the floor. I was not sure what to expect while traveling in Malaysia since I had only been to Kuala Lumpur once. To my surprise the people were very polite, friendly, and spoke very good English.

By the time we checked in and they drove us through the maze of golf cart size roads out to our room, it was late. I said let’s just get room service to make easy. The next morning we awoke well rested to begin our first day enjoying the area. First on the list was to climb to the top a nearby mountain where a view of the coastline of eastern Malaysia and the expanse into the sea towards India could be seen. It was an amazing view. We had lunch at a Japanese place in the small village that was more a tourist town than anything. I asked Sumalee what she would like to do next. She said what popped into her mind first which was go for a motorcycle ride. We rented a motorbike at one of the small shops in the village and away we went across the countryside. It had been several years since I had ridden a motorbike in Asia so it was a little bouncy and unstable at first, but it came back after a few close calls.

The first day went fast and it was time to get back to the hotel. At the hotel, we decided on a Chinese restaurant. Samulee decided to have a glass of wine even though she does not drink often. It seemed she started to relax more. We talked a while. Since it was late there weren’t many people around and the staff did not seem like they were in a hurry as they were going about their routine with other things. It was a enjoyable time even thought I don’t remember much about the conversation except it was just nice spending the time in that moment. We both had second glass of wine and melted into relaxation of an adventurous first day.

Everyday in the evening when we would come home after the room had been made up, there would always be something different. Sometimes it would be chocolates on the pillow, or a basket of fruit…Today it was two swans shaped from the towels. The two swans were sculpted and position in such a way as they were kissing. It invoked romantic thoughts. It sure made me start to think and send my mind whirling off into distant dreams. Samulee was caught by it as well however not in the way I had hoped. She took a picture and thought it was cute.

Becoming a routine, once again Sumalee placed a pillow between us on the King size bed to insure I did not cross any boundaries while we slept. It seemed cold after every email message from her ended in sweet kisses and tight warm hugs. It made me wonder. Here we are, two people, who have known each other for several years, agreeing to share a vacation together in one of the most romantic places on earth. And there is not trust enough that a boundary has to be set everyday of this limited time together. I am not the one to make advancements unless I think the feeling is reciprocated. I felt bad that she could not trust me even after several days without even an indirect suggestion. At most, I tried holding her hand a few times only to receive a light uncommitted open hold. After that I knew there was something not in balance and did not try to hold her hand anymore. We talked for a while. She said she had been hurt by the last boyfriend and she wasn’t going to be hurt again. I asked her if she wanted me to sleep on the couch and she said that was not necessary.

The next morning I woke up first and I remember if we were going to go snorkeling they usually leave early. I woke Sumalee up and said we need to get ready to go if you want to go snorkeling. By the time the shuttle picked us up from the room and dropped us off at the lobby it was already 9 AM. We had missed the snorkeling bus. I asked what else we can do and the concierge suggested the mangrove tour. So we decided to go for that. I did not have high hopes. When we arrived at the harbor and were escorted to our tour guide we came to find that we were the only ones signed up. It was like a private tour. The boat trip along the river was great as we saw plenty of wildlife. The tour guide also said we looked like a nice couple and took several pictures for us. As it turned out the snorkeling would not have been that great on that day anyway since it was raining a lot. It was nice to be sitting in the boat and watch things pass by.

Later that day we rented some jet skis and I could really see the wild side in Samulee as she jumped some waves with laughter as I held on while she was in the driver's seat.

On our last evening I had wanted to take Samulee to a restaurant that stuck in my mind since I first saw it on the hotel website. It is a Thai restaurant that is located out in the ocean by itself with water all around. I wanted to take her there in the evening and enjoy an elegant dinner while watching the sun set. It was another romantic moment; very peaceful and beautiful.

Next stop Singapore. Upon arrival with the luck of the taxi draw we ended up with a Mercedes level and a very posh driver. Singapore has really become a luxury destination. It brought back memories of past adventurous. First stop was shopping of course. What else better to do in Singapore. And wow has the luxury and prices along with it advanced since my last stop there. $600 shoes, several thousand dollar hand bags, and jewelry at any price upwards. Like any woman in the world, Samulee enjoys shopping. This goes without saying in her own words she is not the shopping type. She was kind and did not push the limits of politeness to her credit. Because she was kind, I ended up offering more and probably spent more than I or she had planned. It was worth it to see her smile so big. When I thought about it later, most of what she had bought was for other family members and not for herself.

For dinner I wanted to show Samulee one of my favorites spots, Clarke Quay. We found a nice seafood restaurant with seating at the river’s edge. It is amazing to see the city lights, the boats making their way up and down the river, and see the shops lining the harbor. One of my all time favorites in Singapore that we don’t have in the States is chili crab. I order that with some lobster and some white wine. I remember the waiter was a character and always trying to get us to eat more or use more butter on the lobster. I know one thing…we could hardly walk after that dinner.

After relaxing a while I had enough energy to take a walk and wanted to show her one other point of interest: The Swiss Hotel. The Swiss Hotel is 70 floors high making it the tallest in Singapore. There is a lounge called The New Asia Lounge at the top where you sit next to a glass wall 2 stories high with a glass table. It feels like you could fall of the top of the building sitting so close to the glass wall. Since Samulee was out of breath we took one of the bicycle taxis. I was hoping to share a drink in the lounge with her, but she seemed overwhelmed once we reached the lounge, and just wanted to go back to the hotel.

The next morning Samulee woke up before me with excitement to see more of Singapore. While she was showering I just relaxed and tried to get a little more sleep. Once she was finished to my surprise she pounced on me pinning me under the blankets. At first I was not sure what to do as it was completely unexpected from the way she had been rather cold to me the rest of the trip. I thought she was just giving me a hug, but she stayed there for several minutes. I returned the affection by putting my arms around her and massaging her back, running my fingers through her jet black hair. It was a nice moment which I wish had happened sooner. I know she was thanking me for bringing her to Singapore and being good to her.

Without any words the day continued on as nothing happened differently, however she was more cheerful after that.

Her other wish was to see Sentosa Island. So even though I had been there ten times, I took her and played the tour guide. It has changed a lot but most of what is new has already been in the States for a long time, so it wasn't new to me.

Our flight left that afternoon. I had one more place I missed which is a hidden Chinese restaurant. One of the best I have been to anywhere in the world. We ate so much and I had not eaten like that in a very long time. I was so full it was kind of painful, but it was worth it.

Samulee and my time at least for the travel part had come to a close and it was time to head back to Thailand. She had to work Thursday and Friday to finish a project. I spent the day touring around Ayutthaya on motorbike visiting temples and taking pictures.

Saturday she planned for me to meet her family for dinner. During the afternoon we spent the time with her sister-in-law and two children at a nice shopping mall in Bangkok. I spent the time chasing her sister-in-law’s young son around the mall as he had two much energy and became bored. One of the exciting times was catching him midway down the escalator as he found it fun going the wrong way. I laughed about it even though I could see the stress in the other adults faces. I would probably do that if I could and was not an adult.

We arrived at a harbor area for dinner at an open air restaurant along the river. There I met her father, and oldest brother. Her mother had passed away when she was young and her father raised her. Her brother worked for the Thai government as an official. I don’t remember the position now, something mid level. It was a nice lunch although the only one who could speak English and Thai was Sumalee.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and prepared things for my flight home the next morning. I decided to have a talk with Sumalee about her feelings and about what I am to her. She kept saying I have a personality she likes and she likes the time we spend together. I asked her if she could think of me as a friend or more.

She said, “I do not know I need more time.”

I said “how long?”

Her next words caught me by surprise.

“Two more years.”

My mind just went blank at that point, and I became silent. Not sure what to say next. I understand she had been hurt before and I did not want to cause her any more stress. On the other hand life goes on or it should.

In the early morning it was time for me to get ready. I took my shower, brushed my teeth and did my final packing. In our hurrying around the room preparing we rushed towards other to give each other a big bear hug.

As I waited just on the other side of the international departure control zone, I could Sumalee waiting on the other side of the glass. We put our hands next to each other on the window for our last goodbye.

My wish for her

It has now been two years, the time agreed upon for Sumalee to decide her feeling for me. I had hoped there would be a change. We have had our email exchanges although they are less frequent and not having much emotion. I have tried to speak with Sumalee about her dreams and fears. I have always wished for her happiness even it is not with me. I have tried to make her understand that if she wants to work toward them I would help her even if it was not with me. However, every time I bring it up the subject it is always changed or ignored.

In life the path is not always a straight line. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes things don’t work out like expected. We have to be willing to learn and go on to build something better. I understand that being a career women is not easy and sometimes pride is too strong. Being a woman can be empowering not only from intelligence but also the gift of being feminine. This is something I think Thai women know better than western women.

I remember my first girlfriend taught me so much I did not expect to learn. She was a completely conservative Korean on the outside, and quite the opposite on the inside. She was an independent spirit who was always surrounded by friends and having fun. Even though we were not meant to be together in the long term, the experience changed me very much for the better. Before her I had never been with anyone. I was very shy and scared of everything that I assumed about relationships. She was what I needed for that point in my life. She taught me how to be comfortable, how a woman enjoys being touched, and she made me understand that men and women are not so different deep down. She was a good teacher of the taboo. I remember one thing that always sticks in my mind. She believed that after two are intimate they can talk about anything more openly. I had never really thought of it that way before, but it does have a unifying affect.

Without someone to bring me out of my shell, who knows how my life would have ended up? I also know that a person must want to change otherwise not much will. The similarity in my own past makes me want to help Sumalee even more. I know her pain and struggle. I also know how it could be different. Life doesn’t have to be a struggle especially when you have someone who wants to help, some who could be by your side to give you a hand.

I can try to explain how it could be different, I can try to show her another path, but without reciprocation two cannot become one. I wish she would see so she can find someone who can be that person for her. I know it is just a matter of the willingness to share in another’s life, return the affection and kindness, and trusting in the possibility of something great. There are no guarantees with love and relationships. It is what two bring to each other that matters.

What can I say that will help her find her dreams so she can get beyond her own walls and find her special someone? How to encourage a person beyond the walls created and the fear of the unknown? How to get someone to stop being afraid, start growing and blossoming again?

It is time to go on with my journey; I must seek my dreams too. I have waited long enough for something that isn’t going to be more. I have given my best to her without seeing a change; there is only so much energy to give. I have my wishes to fulfill. I need the person that fulfills life like the gravity of two intertwined stars dance in the heavens sparking excitement and happiness to every moment like fireworks.

I light a sky lantern and make a wish for you to find your dream. May all your dreams be fulfilled.

's thoughts:

I wonder if there is other stuff going on in Sumalee's life that you don't know about…

nana plaza