Leaving for this trip, for any trip, never seems to come easy. I feel a constant attachment to place and people and rhythms. As we pulled out of our drivewy nearly ten days ago, our rose bushes gave us a show good-bye. One plant in particular touted a large yellow flower with pink tips, while it’s neighbor showed off its deep red bloom. Though I love all seasons in Denver, spring time provides a special treat as new life emerges from the earth. And having lived at our house for only one year, it’s still a suprise to see what will join our garden next. Watching these recent blooms made leaving our home all that more diffiult.
On Friday afternoon, before jet lag kicked in full gear, Lindsay and I meandered the streets of Bangkok in search of an evening meal prior to the long deep sleep. We have a habit of wandering, with some direction, when we arrive in a new city; we’ve always found that we love the architexture of buildings and life on the streets most of all. Having just left a Wat, or buddhist temple, where monks in their beautiful bright orange robes milled about before heading to their quarters on the monastery gounds, I was deep in contemplation about the notion of home and our constant desire to leave it behind for the sake of travel. These monks, I presumed, had left home in search of spiritual development, to create a new home in fellowship, in meditation and in prayer beneath ornate temples and stunning bronze buddhas.
So during this particular walk, when we strolled through a large, quiet neighborhood in the midst of the city’s chaos, I couldn’t help but ask questions. Here, on the ground floor of what appeared to be two-story homes, families lived their lives and ran their businesses simultaneously . . . printing services, sewing and tailoring operations, trinket markets, sidewalk cafes, even refurbished car batteries, all came sprawling out the front steps of living rooms.
Is this a different sense of home than our little abode in north Denver? Do theses families, the children, the mothers and fathers, feel the same sense of connection to their homes that we do? Is the desire to travel, to move about, to see the world, as nagging as ours? I don’t have the answer for them, and as much as I would have liked to stand in the garage-like doorway of their homes to pose the question, my place was to stroll on through the neighborhood, to allow them to live their lives, to not be the disrupting tourist.
For us yesterday, home became a little first class sleeper on a rather bumpy, rackety, slow all-night train that woke us up with a sunrise over Thai rice paddies, and landed us on the shores of the Mekong to begin a new leg of our journey in Laos. No, I will not romanticize our little sleeping cubicle and say that it provided me with the same enthusiasm for home as our place in Denver, or my childhood house in Idyllwild, but for this wandering we’re now on, it was just perfect.