IMG_2081bPOSTCARD #155: Chiang Mai: Home is three rooms on the third floor in a condominium. Arrived in the evening, up in the elevator, unlock the door and enter. Lights on, blinded for a moment, drop everything, close door. It’s airless, windows closed – how long was I away? Must have been the end of August? A scatter of things left at the doorway as I stumble around absorbing the environment, trying to recreate the last time I was here, searching for familiarity in the furniture… things, objects which carry meaning. Anjali to the Buddha statue, books on shelves… and I find the memory of it all is displaced by present experience, as I step into a new time. Sensory data, the smell of detergent products (the cleaners came). It’s so quiet here, open curtains with a great sweep, sliding back screens, open the windows with a bang (unintentional), birds outside flutter and chirp and there’s the mountain air. Crash around the apartment, disturbing the space held by these rooms, what is contained is squeezed outside and new air enters. My shoes are lying in the hallway as if the owner has flown away, bathroom door flung open. It’s like a catastrophe in reverse – everything is suddenly peopled, inhabited, okay, this is where I live.

Router is flickering green lights, switch on laptop, available networks… okay I’m online. What else is here? Clothes hanging in the closet, whose are these? Looks like they fit me, must have been ‘me’ in a former life. Case lying on the bed, its cover open so wide it looks like the extended mouth of an opera singer reaching the high note… the emotionality of arriving at the final destination. All my clothes coming out, folded to a flatness like envelopes and layered, they feel cold from the aircraft. Flat-pack systems, I have to reassemble according to numbered diagrams and the hologram arises like magic; a sense of ‘self’ in these surroundings, clothed and cloaked in suitable disguise; everything needed for this temporary mode of being.

Head spinning with the varying ear-popping air pressures and momentum of the great storm that brought me here, the travel industry, largest network in the world. Taxis, escalators, miles of corridors, two planes, Delhi/ Bangkok/ Chiang Mai, everything is linked with everything else. Who runs it all? … is there a God? Inappropriate question right now, the spinning flow of it is just moving along by itself, I jump on as it’s going past, join the other passengers already there, get my seat, fasten seat belts and we’re all swept away like flotsam and jestam taken by river currents.

So now I’m here, j’arrive! Let’s see now, what’s in the fridge? Onions with long shoots growing in the darkness. Soy milk not yet past its sell-by-date and some dry oats that seem to be okay. Plenty coffee. Good! I can do grocery shopping tomorrow. Time to reverse in, switch off engine, lights flash in acknowledgement, and be horizontal for 8 hours…

“As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, for ever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.”
[Ovid, Metamorphoses]


12 thoughts on “rooms

  1. I so identify! On a less dramatic and more local scale, we travel between NYC and our place in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania every week, spending 3 or 4 days in one and then the other. I hurry to unpack my canvas LLBean tote bag and eventually visit each room, thinking, this is the first time I’ve been in here this week. And again a few days later repeating the drill. I love how you explain it as the temporary identity being restored, temporarily. At least that’s how I interpreted your well chosen words. Thank you!

    • Yes, I recognise this. In a situation like this you can see how a temporary identity arises. I’ve done it for a few days, usually it’s longer, but eventually it’s time for the packing and transport back to point A. The journey between is travelled by another identity. And when you arrive there’s a juxtaposition of the identity of who you were before you left and who you are now. It settles of its own accord…

      • It’s a case of getting used to the idea of it. I’ve had the pain since early September expecting it to go ‘away’ some day soon and now it looks like I have to make friends with it. I’ll be looking carefully at the meds and expect to develop a knowledge of the subject as I go along. At the moment, yes, I’m on neurontin 100mg three times a day and the suicide side effect is something I need to watch out for hmmm. It has helped though, the pain is dulled like listening to your neighbour’s stereo through the wall next door. Also Trilen Tab (LASA)(F) before sleeping. And yes I don’t know what’s good about having bags under your eyes, I suppose it’s intended for faces that are otherwise flawless…

  2. I loved the catastrophe in reverse. Everything collapsing into place. It’s like you were re-booting the past, only somehow it’s not the same. It also reminds me there are rooms in my consciousness that come to life when I see the light on the grass, the squirrel dashing for the tree, the sink piled with dishes. We’re always lighting up the familiar, moving from room to room to room, sliding from wave to wave… They all seem the same, but they’re also all unique… We are patterns within patterns…


    • Yes that’s it, like watching part of a movie backwards, re-booting the past, but slightly different every time. Flickers of déjà vu for a moment, present awareness lights up objects that have a familiarity, and there are different stories of how they came to be here – patterns within patterns, allowing everything to collapse into place. It seems to go on for as long as it takes to settle in a state of how things are at the moment. Then it becomes solid enough to tread carefully on and we just get on and do things

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