We arrived in Phuket about midnight. It was a little like waking up in space or a lost dimension. We were tired and in a foreign place. We’d quit our jobs, cut strings, packed our life into a storage locker, and had two bags full of possessions. We met a Thai woman who showed us her Taxi. We agreed on a price and headed to town. When we got to the hotel, I hardly slept.
For the first week, I woke up in the morning with my teeth feeling odd and a sore jaw. I realized I’d been clenching my teeth in my sleep. I wanted to believe I wasn’t stressed but I had never clenched my teeth while sleeping before. I was stressed.
Leaving loved ones is hard. Walking into the strange and unfamiliar is hard. Walking off the beaten path is hard. A career path can be like a black hole in that it has a gravity that most people do not escape from and breaking free is exhausting work.
Add that all up and then start adding in actual dollar $ign$. Pay rent without a job, $300. Buy a scooter without a job, $900. Take a teaching certification course, $1,500. Buy international health insurance, $750. The list goes on. And on. Eventually it may include a dental bill for fixing teeth ground to dust.
This post is not about clenched teeth. It is about smiles. Two months in, everything has changed.
We ate by the street last night, by candlelight on a rickety metal table. We drank tea, had three Thai dishes, and a pineapple shake. The bill was 7 USD.
We are paying about $450 for rent, which is high here. But we have an unbelievable, 100 yard pool that I swim in every night after work. I still love swimming like I did when I was a kid.
I teach English during the week now. I teach four classes of Thai kids. They are full of smiles. They are restless, as kids should be, but they listen and try and eventually learn. I have to work hard, harder than I honestly ever expected. There’s no A/C and when the sweat starts to drip off my face the kids say “Teacher Dave, hot?” I nod, smile, and keep chuggin.
At no time did I ever regret coming here. But, for a while, there were hard moments for every happy one. They got me here though. Sweaty and smiling.
We left a lot to come here. I had hoped certain things would be true and they are. Life isn’t blurring together here. It is filled with new experiences, new people, new sunsets, new islands, new food, and endless stories.
I feel younger and feel healthier when I look in the mirror. My face has color. I wake up earlier. I eat more fruit. I read more.
I can’t stay forever, I know this. I am a family man at heart and it will eventually draw us back to NH. But every moment of my day here is energized. I think, and maybe hope, that it will seep into my DNA and that my energy will never again fit neatly into a cubicle.