Something More Than Culture Exchange

Breathe, little one, just breathe. Take slow, steady, sips of water. Feel the cool sensation on your lips. Feel it roll over your tongue.

You were a stranger at one time. Who was the foreigner, you or I, it’s all backwards. Not even I know.

In tongues you spoke, with stretched out neck muscles and smiles that never died. Your short bob cut like everyone else. Should you stand in a crowd, faced away, not even your slumped shoulders could give you away. Not then, no. But now, yes.

I pushed. I always do. Questions burst into my head and a daisy day handkerchief couldn’t keep them in. Why? How come? Surely I’m frustrating in more languages than one.

Over there, united, their heads would hang low. Wrinkles would etch along their brow bone, neck stiffened from head shaking. Exasperation. Misunderstanding. But you, confused and equally tired. You. You smiled and laughed at the absurdity.

Then I laughed, over and over and over and over and over until one day…

I cried.

It was the day you left. A family and home awaited your return up North. If anyone understands it is me. It is me. When you carried your box of belongings out the door, I couldn’t put it into words. I still can’t. You were a stranger, then somewhere along the way you became a friend. A good friend that taught me much about life. About patience. About love. About understanding in the face of confusion. In the face of utter misunderstanding.

Thank you for understanding. Thank you for teaching me more than I could ever teach you.

Kruu Samone and I in the mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand. November 2012

Kruu Samone and I in the mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand. November 2012

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