Sometimes Goodbyes Are Not Forever
Probably the one word that I dislike the most is "goodbye" or "la-gone" ลาก่อน.
There have been far too many of them for me in one lifetime and there has always been a scar left from each of them – and you know, none of them ever seem to heal completely. All it takes is a simple "trigger" and at least one of them will start to bleed again.
Many times the act of saying "goodbye" is merely a perfunctory procedure that we accept as a normal part of temporary separation from a business or a personal friend who has no real emotional connection – and, it is also quite often expected that we will see that person again in the not-too-distant future. In some cases, it may not bother us if a lot of time passes before we see that person again – or even if that ever happens again.
Most of us make quite a few friends in Thailand, ranging from bar friendships (forged over regular drinking sessions during which the recounting of particular episodes of the "naughty" side of life are recalled and compared) – to the more intimate friendships that evolve from intentional or unexpected liaisons with Thai girls or women. Of course, the same situations exist back in Farangland – but I wish to concentrate on the situations that we may (or may not) have experienced in whatever part of Thailand holds the strongest of the feelings that we may remember most easily.
It would seem that many readers have had long associations with Pattaya – but I confess that I have never been to Pattaya in all the years that I have been coming and going from Thailand. Apart from a short period, that I have already recounted, in Isaan – ALL of my experiences in Thailand have either been in Bangkok (my first preference) or Chiang Mai (a place that I slowly began to love). In spite of my awareness of the scenic beauty of Phuket and many of the island resorts off the peninsula, I have never shown even the remotest interest in visiting anywhere on the peninsula. I never shall.
Friday, 10 November, 2000, was one of the most difficult days that I can recall in Bangkok. It began with Natalise and I taking a tuk tuk to Lumphini Park to sit in the quiet on the north-eastern side of part of the lake, where we had come so many times in the past. A couple of days previously we had come back to Bangkok from Prasat, in Isaan – and were now faced with a decision of whether I should go back to Australia without her or if I should stay in Bangkok. We were already married but I needed to attend to financial matters back in Oz and to generate more income which I could not do if I was in Thailand.
Three times, we walked across Rama IV to the entrance of the building where British Airways had their booking office – and three times we walked away and back to Lumphini Park. We sat on one of the concrete seats near the lake's edge and both of us cried with our arms around each other. In the end, we made the trip, once again, across Rama IV and rode the elevator up to the British Airways office and I bought the ticket back to Oz. I cannot even describe the feelings back at Soi Pichai, when the taxi arrived to take me out to Don Muang Airport – leaving Natalise standing in the soi, waving goodbye to each other.
I had already filled out the application forms for a second Visa application for Natalise before leaving Bangkok – and I sent more AUD for her air fare and the visa to Oz after I arrived back in Oz. On Wednesday 22 November, 2000, Nat left Bangkok on British Airways and was back with me the following day in Oz. This time she had a 6-month Visa. However, we were far from being over the hurdle of her being given the Provisional Residency Visa. Those dramas were still to unfold – but, at least we were back together.
Our time together was mostly happy but, like most people getting to know each other, there were a few misunderstandings that were mostly addressed and put behind us. Most of the problems related to misunderstandings because of the cultural divide – but we got on with life and I did value what we had and hoped it would last the distance to become a successful marriage. However, not all things unfold as expected and we came to a mutual agreement to separate in October 2004 – and I reluctantly went back to Thailand again in late November. Nobody was to blame – I guess one can write it down to incompatibility, yet I did believe that we would find a way back together again.
I often think that events happen for a reason unknown to any of us – but, one week after some time in Bangkok, I found myself in Chiang Mai where I met Wan in a bar not far away from that little nondescript bar where we three old "Has-beens" were to sit so many years later in the future – lost in that thousand-yard stare and our memories – and listening to The Eagles while we drank our double shots of whatever "poison" was each one's choice. I would give anything to be back in that little nondescript bar once again – but I would give my life (what is left of it) to have that first night again in the company of Wan in that magic bar where all my dreams came true – but only a short walk from that little nondescript bar of the future.
How can something so beautiful come undone when both people want it as badly as each other wants it? If I'm honest, I must admit it was all to do with too many goodbyes to Wan in Chiang Mai. I loved her more than anybody I had ever met before in this life – and I still feel the same about her even today, after having not seen her since August 2010. A word of warning to those who may benefit by the telling of my mistakes – to really and truly know what it is that you want in a relationship. My biggest mistake was in still having love for Natalise – and falling for Wan was completely unfair to all three people involved in this triangle that could have had no other outcome other than deep hurt for all involved.
I have said in a previous submission that Wan and I are still together – and we always will be together because I truly believe that she was the one I was really supposed to meet in Thailand but became caught up in the "maya" of Bangkok – lost in the charms of Natalise. So, the reality is that it is totally impossible to be true to more than one Love – to even try to do so will end in destruction, mentally and physically.
Many times, I made excuses to leave Chiang Mai to go back to Oz, merely to satisfy myself that Natalise was doing OK – and, of course she was because she had started to date again – but, even so, the love between Natalise and I was still there in how we related to each other. To be honest, I suppose we were more comfortable relating to each other than at any time in our past. Of course there was no sexual involvement because I would not do that and betray Wan.
The goodbyes to Wan were always the most difficult for me to handle because of the close bond that had developed between us over the 10 months we had known each other – but the reality is that it was probably only 8 months in total that we were together after subtracting the "away" times. After the final departure for Oz, Natalise and I divorced in 2006 – but I have been back twice since then to be with Wan. I guess the words from the pen of Bob Dylan can say more than I am able to describe what each new day feels like.
It is a song I have performed way too many times both on stage and in my head as well.
ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS (Bob Dylan)
Down the street the dogs are barking
And the day is a-getting dark
As the night comes in a-falling
The dogs will lose their bark
And the silent night will shatter
From the sounds inside my mind
For I’m one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind
From the crossroads of my doorstep
My eyes they start to fade
As I turn my head back to the room
Where my love and I have laid
And I gaze back to the street
The sidewalk and the sign
And I’m one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind
It’s a restless hungry feeling
That don’t mean no one no good
When everything I’m a-saying
You can say it just as good
You’re right from your side
I’m right from mine
We’re both just one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind
I often substitute that last line to read "years" instead of "miles" – but one thing I do know is that neither Natalise and I, nor Wan and I have ever really said "goodbye".