On our third date, I sat on his lap on his chair in his living room, all his
furniture purchased on a debit card, everything neat and ordered. I sat
there, and looked around, and I made him promise me we would go to Thailand one day.
He was the type to go to the Bahamas on his honeymoon, to visit Disney as an adult. He was not like me, but he was kind and funny and smart and I loved him almost instantly. He was someone I needed to learn about.
He promised we could go to Thailand. And I said to myself, this is
compromise, this is what makes relationships work. And if we get married and have kids and work and give everything to them, well…we’d still have that trip to Thailand.
In the ensuing months, he fought with me about my scattered credit cards. My lack of knowledge about my credit score. My mismatched socks and papers everywhere. The fact that I’m paying for a car in Los Angeles, a city I haven’t lived in for 10 months.
Thailand, Thailand. I clung to it like it was salvation.
I suggested trips for us to take, but a weekend away would disrupt his
schedule of errands and chores. There was no room for movement or travel, and for awhile I was okay with a structured, grown-up life. We weren’t yet 30.
He wondered if I’d ever have a job again: in the midst of a horrific lupus flare, I couldn’t work. I was applying for disability and I was about to rely on the government, something he said he would never do, no matter what happened. He was completely healthy; he had no idea about the shame that comes with admitting you need help, the hot, undeserved embarrassment that comes with falling off the path of your peers. It is not a place I ever wanted to be.
Life is short, I’d say. This I knew from living with a chronic disease and surviving cancer. He said he agreed, but he understood that in a different way. I want my memories not to be of buying my first house or cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws; I want them to be messy and full of travel sickness and the sketchy medicines we bought off a guy in the street, and the way the sun set over the ocean as I sipped a drink and I turned the final page of a favorite book.
Thailand undid us because we both knew we were never going to go, not
We went to breakfast on the morning I moved my stuff out; he told me that my life was just beginning. He didn’t say it, but it wasn’t the life he wanted: messy, full of travel, and diseases that could not be fixed with a structured life. We loved each other, but it was not enough.
On the days I feel particularly awful, the days that lupus pins me to my bed and thoughts of a cancer recurrence rattle my brain, I think of Thailand and India and Hawaii and a backpack and a travel guide and a hand to hold and the dream of continuing to have dreams.
How important that is, I think. To continue to dream. Because to dream is
to not give up. To dream is to commit to being alive.
Maybe this means I will always be alone. Or maybe it means that I am sure of what I want: to live while I am alive. Oh, how I want to live while I am alive. How I want to continue to dream.
And how I want to–need to!–take that trip to Thailand.