safe in the known
I want to be able to transport people with my words and take them to far off places they’ve never been.
I want them to experience fire shows on the shores of an island somewhere in Thailand and be able to picture the blue water with ease and the way it feels like velvet when you walk through it.
I want them to see the long tail boats with their colorful strings and flowers hanging off the end – an offering for a safe journey and be able to smell the gasoline that they pour into the car engine.
I want them to be able to hear the Thai people say “swa dee ka” every time you pass them and with the right intonations too. When I picture the words, they feel like a mountain, up, down, and drawn out.
I want them to taste the rotis – street pancakes made with dough and butter and any topping you’d like. My favorite is mango or coconut with Nutella.
I want them to hear the sizzling of the street meat that they sell for 20 baht.
I want them to experience how the walking street is quiet and wet in the morning but comes alive at night, lady boys dressed in their finest promising the best pad Thai on the island.
The dive centers are open, the owners are Australian and laid back, smoking cigarettes all day, skin tanned and leathered. Thai men in shorts and flip flops try to sell you their tours – snorkeling trips featuring colored fish and bright orange life jackets.
Tourist shops sell the same jewelry and keychains of elephants and penises and the same blue tie dye dress and the same red and purple elephant pants. It’s all the same same but different.
I wonder what this island was like without the tourists. How did they make money? They probably caught their own food and lived more as a community and didn’t have to spend all day selling snorkeling tours and making pizza and hamburgers in their shops to sell to the white people.
I feel really safe on this island. You’re bound to on any island this small. It’s something about the fact that all the people here are contained, they can’t come and go as they please. We are all at the mercy of the long tail boats to take us to the mainland, so it feels like we’re in a little bubble of the world. As if the outside pressures don’t exist and we exist safe and happily out here. Like a group of people huddled around the fire when it’s cold except we walk on sand barefoot and bare chested.
There are finite things to do here. The safety is in the finite.
It’s when we are opened up to the possibilities of the infinite that we introduce the unknown and feel the fear, when we realize our world is bigger than we thought.
I like knowing the beginning and ending of the island and knowing the parameters and knowing I can walk the length in 20 minutes and be able to sit at the edge of the sand where the water meets the earth and feel stuck and safe on my little piece of land in the middle of the ocean surrounded by humans in the same predicament.
It feels comforting. Even though I am alone, I feel connected to every single person on this island, seeing the same things I’m seeing. Doing the same things I’m doing. Completely safe in the known.