Had Rin. Crazy Full Moon Party town. Old stomping grounds. Cleaned up a bit this time, nice to see.
I board a long-tail boat bound for Had Yuan, a ten minute boat drive around the corner. My favorite beach in the world is right around the corner.
The long-tail boat roars off, five of us in it, and I’m looking back to shore, a peculiar feeling in my heart. Being here has been high, it has been low, it has been joyous, it has been sad. It’s like going back to your favorite love affair of all time, one that ended sadly, and saying Hi, I’m back, let’s remember. Beaches are like that. People are like that. But as I’m traveling solo right now, I’m presently struck by how beaches can be like that. So I’m looking back on one favorite beach, and heading towards another. A woman between lovers. I’m trying to be present.
Interestingly, nothing here ever ended sadly. I think it’s just where I am now. Any time you try to linger too long on memories, you get sad. You get sad because memories aren’t real. Only right now is real. So the more delectable, the more divine the memory, the more sad you will be upon returning to now. Because the memory is not here. You are here, but the memory is not. It’s like eating a huge, gorgeous cake, great firm grapes, strawberries in cream, caramel… But you never get full. You are still hungry, and wait… the feast isn’t even there. So you delve in again, remembering, eating the memory. Remember, come back, repeat. Remember, come back, repeat.
Okay. I’m back.
As the long-tail rushes along, I am looking at the rocks jutting out from the jungle. They roll by, large, majestic, as the long-tail boat screams through the sea, spraying water. We are racing, but the rocks are unfolding, showing themselves to us in a leisurely manner. They have seen a million boats go by, they are in no hurry. They are like big puzzle pieces, these huge grey chunks of rock, and they fit together in a lop-sided, unbalanced way, but they fit. In fact, the fit is nearly seamless.
As I watch the rocks, I remember my brother telling me that he used to see monkeys here at sunset. He told me this many years ago, and I always looked for them eagerly after that, the monkeys at sunset. I never saw them. Someone else told me the same thing, but my frustration only increased upon hearing this, because I had been looking for monkeys steadily for many weeks at this point, and had never seen them.
So I am sitting on the long-tail boat, thinking about telling you guys this story- this story of never-seeing-monkeys-at-sunset, but how-beautiful-the-rocks-are-anyway, when… drum roll…
I see a monkey! And then two! They are walking on all fours, grey, with pointy tails. I can’t believe it! A story in a story! An unexpected twist! I watch as they begin to curve out of sight, and suddenly my back is straight and my eyes are scanning the rocks intently. Another one! This one is walking in that funny way that monkeys have, on all fours, with its hind-quarters swinging back and forth like an unconcerned female, flaunting her ass to anyone that will look. She doesn’t care. Or he doesn’t care. I don’t know if this monkey is a he or a she. I don’t care.
Another one, and another one! This one stops his funny waddling and picks something up in his white paw and examines it carefully. The boat flies on. The monkeys stop. Well, they stop showing themselves to me.
And now we are on Had Yuan, and I can’t believe it, I can’t believe I’m back to this old beach, this same beach, this one that lives in my heart, in my DNA, as surely as any cluster of cells or blood. My feet sink into the sand and I am home, and I am crying, but with no tears on my face. My heart reaches out and touches it all, and then I realize how small I am, how big this small beach is, how deep with memories. And again, I try to bring myself back. To now. To here. I look right, I look left, and I start to walk. The bungalows on the rock are calling my name.