This is the best burger I’ve ever had.
This is the best burrito I’ve ever had.
This is the most fun I’ve ever had.
This is the best sex I’ve ever had.
There is something about being away from home, whether on the road or in the middle of service, that makes you miss things so much more. It also makes being reunited with it… that. much. sweeter. Oh yes.
So I’ve been away from home for over a year, living off of cheap foreign food and an ultra conservative lifestyle. Rice with meat or boiled vegetables morning, noon, and night. Breakfast foods of cereal, soft foods, toast and eggs doesn’t exists. Neither does the wonderful melting pot of a cuisine that America brings to the table. Neither does late nights of dancing revelry, save the solo session I have on my upstairs balcony. For a minute there I almost forgot a part of myself in the polo shirts and long, knee-length skirts. What’s that? Oh my upper thigh. I haven’t seen you in six months. Jeez, Jules, what a square.
But here I am, back again, on the upswing (**I hope**
says under breath)
As my time through service progresses I become more and more certain of something:
You spend your first half of service obeying the standards, playing by the rules, and conforming (even contorting?) yourself to your community, your country of service. It feels like someone hands you a box and says, here, here is a box, don’t jump out of it for two years. Simply: live in the box.
Your second year of service, thankful that the box given to you was made of tacky cardboard and broke down on a rainy day (how is that for efficiency?), you start to break out of your newly cast mold and settle in comfortably to a pair of old shoes. You slip them on, wiggle your toes into the grooves, cock your head to one side as you try to remember the fit, and shrug in complacency.
When my parents came to visit in April, in their first days in Thailand, I took them (and their pocketbook) not to the nearest Thai food stalls, but to the nearest Subway, Mexican restaurant and burger joint in Bangkok. I justified that I was getting their stomachs acclimated to Thailand. Starting them off nice and slow.
Having splurged on such indulgent food before with my monthly savings, I knew the treat I was in for. Excited, I told them, “We have to go to Firehouse burger. It’s the best burger I’ve ever had.” Their eyes lit up with excitement, too. Anything was better than the American sub sandwich place I drug them to for lunch.
I talked up this burger all day. It’s juiciness. It’s dripping, buttery taste. It’s sweet, but not-too-Thai sweet, bun. I mean, this is THE BURGER of burgers.
We sat down with a knife and fork, I saddled up next to the two-for-one margaritas, and endless peanuts. The best margaritas I’ve ever had. Our chopping board and burger came to the table and we dug in. I paused as the juicy meat took a little of my breath away. I was so elated. My taste buds danced with the same rhythm I boogie down to on my balcony at night, solo show, of course.
I looked up from my heaping pile of beef long enough to notice the incredulous looks my parents were exchanging with one another. “It’s..uhhh…it’s okay.”
“What??” Preposterous. “This is the best burger I have ever had.” They gave me a sad sort of smile and chuckled.
Even if the pair of old shoes I slip into have holes in the toes, worn out soles, and nicked heels, as long as they aren’t a polo shirt, a Thai rice dish, or a knee-length skirt. Yeah. I’m down for that. Hell, it’ll likely even be..
The best I’ve ever had.
**Semi more serious reflection: It isn’t without having given up the things I am grateful for for a long time that I have truly become grateful for everything. Some may see it as lower standards, but it’s wonderful to be surprised and delighted by the little things again.
What things have you given up in your travels that make their return to your life all the more sweet?
You can take this as a personal endorsement of Firehouse Burger in Bangkok. Take the BTS to the Nana stop, and follow the sign to Sukhumvit Soi 11 (don’t mistake this for Soi 11/1 – they aren’t the same). Take a left onto Soi 11, pass the Villa Market, Zanzibar’s, Zak’s Wine Pub, Bed Superclub, and go all the way to the end of the road, about 0.5-1.0 km or a 8-10 min walk then turn left. On your left you will see Firehouse restaurant. I don’t care what the parents say. It’s the best burger I’ve ever had (this year).
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