They say animals love you, unconditionally. And us, them. But, beat up an animal enough, and that animal will eventually (and hopefully) bite the shit out of us; get bitten by an animal we love one too many times, and we’ll likely get rid of the abuser.
Even those unconditional notions … they aren’t aways here to stay. Unconditional love is not permanent; it is a privilege which, with abuse, can be rescinded.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about permanence.
When I take body pump at the gym, my friend and I always are in the very back, facing away from the others working out so we can watch our form (and see how good we look when we sweat) in the mirrors. I see those wrinkles around my eyes. The lines in my forehead. I watch as I age before that mirror, trying to become a healthier person, but knowing, at the end of the day, my life is not permanent. And, that youthful appearance (what remains of it) will go from crows feet to deep crevices cutting into the heart of my face.
And, I’m ok with that.
As I have aged (hell, I’m basically 35 now), this idea of permanence has ebbed and flowed. The first idea of permanence was growing up when I was asked what I wanted for my future. A job, a house, a family. All of those things seemed like my God-given right; these were ideas which were placed into my mind and ones which clearly spelled my future. A future where my career was my career, my house was my house, my husband was my husband until death do us part: permanence.
Then, it was Vegas. I remember so clearly walking the aisles of Macy’s looking for furniture.
“Get something quality,” my dad had said. “You want it to last.”
Because at that time, this move to Vegas, this furniture, it was the start of my new life. Of this new permanent because my future was Vegas and that was all I saw. It had to last as long as I was going to last. Or, as long as it took to get married, buy a new house and get all new furniture for kids to destroy.
Of course, if you follow along on d travels ’round, then you know that permanent life was politely exchanged not once, but three times. The first, to Atlanta, the second to Europe and then the third, back to Vegas.
Enter the fourth act: Chiang Mai.
For me, this city is about as permanent as they come. I know I love it because when I walk down the street, when I sit with Lek and the elephants, when I hop in a songthaew, the thought of not having these things in my life on a regular basis literally brings tears to my eyes. This city overwhelms me with emotion, with love, but also that yearning to either make it my place or find another one.
It is something I regularly battle with as I get older, my friends get married and have kids, and the mileage between my family doesn’t shrink. I never expected this stop to be permanent, so I never gave myself permission to truly settle in here. I have always refused to go to the Baan & Beyond and buy home goods because I know nothing is permanent, and that has been my thought process for too long now to correct.
But do I really want to be permanent anywhere? I can hardly make a commitment on the color of hair I want, let alone decide to hunker down for the long haul in one single, solitary location. There is always that desire to see. To learn. To soak up as much as possible before I no longer have that ability to soak things up anymore.
No, I’m not leaving Chiang Mai anytime in the near future. This project, with all of its “dig deeper” moments, has just dug up this idea lately about permanence, and that it doesn’t exist in my world.