Being in relationships

As usual, there have been many happenings of late. Such as a fond send-off for one of the girls–the one with the watermelon!–going home after her year here. We had the classic combo of dinner at Khun Churn followed by dessert at iberry.

Goodbye Robyn
Farewell at iberry

And not to mention, Josh’s birthday!

Dinner at dalaabaa
Dinner at dalaabaa

I bought Josh a ukulele (upon request), a CD wallet shaped like a big hamburger cushion, and a new memoir by Nathan Rabin (head writer for The AV Club) called The Big Rewind: A memoir brought to you by pop culture. We went to a nice restaurant I was recommended called dalaabaa and it was just the right tone for the occasion. Nice without being too nice, the kind of place I will happily take my parents to when they visit because I know they’d like it. Great decor and a very relaxed environment – perfect for drinks followed by delicious local and fusion dishes such as crab meat spring rolls, northern Thai sausage, spicy salad with salmon, and northern Thai-style fried rice. (By the way, northern Thai food has become one my favourites these days; as a result of all these new local dishes I’ve discovered, I like Thai food a lot more than I used to!)

I also had a fabulous long weekend in Bangkok with Josh almost two weeks ago which deserves a big fat post, and I’ll write that once I have a chance to sort through photos…but front of mind is something else that I wanted to get off my chest first.

Being in full and conscious control of my life here has somehow not been as easy as I thought it would be, even though life seems far less complicated here; partly because I’m me wherever I live in the world, and partly because I didn’t even realise that I had kind of lost control–and not in a good way. I guess I’ve just been through so much change of late that since I’ve settled in Chiang Mai, I slipped into some bad habits again. For me this means being over-busy and not prioritising correctly and not living as healthfully as I should be. The long-term net effect tends to be me freaking out about my own mortality because I start to think that I’m not living the life I should be living. (I know I know, I’m a little melodramatic!)

Sure, everything has been falling into place – but it recently hit me that I wasn’t exactly making the right choices about how I want to live my life. I wasn’t even making choices so much as taking the path of least resistance. But what the heck am I talking about anyway? I’m living in a wonderful part of Thailand, with a wonderful job surrounded by wonderful colleagues, with wonderful new friends, and a wonderful home with my wonderful boyfriend…and yet…

And yet.

I guess I’ve been feeling a huge yearning to live more freely; these days I feel constantly envious of people I know out there chasing their dreams – happy for them of course, but restless because I’m not out there ‘chasing’ (even though I’m not entirely sure what my dreams even are these days). I think what I’m feeling is that well-known plateau effect that kicks in 3-4 months after moving overseas/ starting a relationship, where you wake up in the morning realising that this is just your normal life now, and not a new adventure anymore. It’s like I’ve stopped dating Chiang Mai and now I’m simply in a full-time and committed relationship with it – with all the highs and lows and routine that a relationship entails. (Which certainly explains the weight gain, ha!) And feeling this way about Chiang Mai means I can’t just pick up and head off to another more exciting place that beckons; nope, I have to–and want to–stay put and make a go of it. Don’t get my wrong, I am eternally grateful that I’ve been awarded this job and that I’m living in an extremely liveable city. But I guess this affair has an ultimate expiry date and I know it, which is why I find it hard to put my whole heart into it sometimes. You can only put your whole heart into a relationship that you hope will last for a very long time, or even forever. But I’ll try not to think about the end and just enjoy the journey, no matter how long it lasts.

The relationship-with-Chiang-Mai thing aside, I suspect there is another source for my discontentment: I’m not writing enough. And truly, I’m a closeted writer in so many ways – I always feel hesitant to call myself a ‘writer’ even though it has been on my mind for most of my life and I have had my share of stories and articles published over the years. Yet somehow, writing is a big part of my life that I still haven’t fully embraced.

(Going to Vietnam is another part of my life I need to work on, but I booked tickets months ago so I’m not worrying about that at the moment. In fact, I’m very excited about that week-long trip in December!)

The minimal activity in relation to my writing has been getting me down a little but I did manage to get my act together to write a piece which I submitted to an Australian journal the other week. So I’m starting to force myself to really focus on my writing; this has resulted in me working on a few other pieces for some upcoming deadlines. I feel a lot better as a result of this enforced discipline, as strange as that sounds. I’ve decided that I can’t be a writer unless I, well, write. I need to improve my relationship with my chosen craft by working on it more.

On the whole though, I am still enjoying myself immensely here, despite feeling restless at times. The plain truth is, I’ve never really dated much, and have always been a serial monogamist going from one relationship to the next. And because I’m this type of person, it means that I’m prone to wondering what it would be like to be a free agent. But at heart I’m a relationship-person and there’s no getting away from it — which is why I’m looking forward to another weekend exploring my new home city and spending the time getting to know it, the good and the bad. And speaking of good and bad, right now I’m about to go downstairs to have a Pizza Hut delivered lunch with my workmates – we’ve ordered pizzas and garlic bread and chicken wings ’cause it’s Friday. Happy weekend everyone!

4 thoughts on “Being in relationships

  1. Great post Sheila… The plain truth? Finding true freedom is always close enough for any of us to grab hold of with both hands, yet often so simple that we tend to look elsewhere! And what a wonderful gift it is.

    Keep writing!

    1. Thanks Ben, I will. And yes, you’re perfectly right of course. I know that the key to resolving my restlessness lies within me…may take me a while to truly get it though, maybe my whole life :-)

  2. Not chasing dreams… I would have thought that a great job, in a great place, with great company is part of the chase…If life is always chasing dreams, you are missing out on life… I think the best way to enjoy life is to not think to much about it and just enjoy where you are – when you are there. If you constantly dwell on what could be… you will never be there and never be happy…

    Just enjoy life… let it take you were it does and enjoy it… :)

    1. Ha, I guess when I talk about ‘chasing’ I mean going overseas in a free-spirited away, not working, not knowing what you’ll end up doing next. Whereas there is a path unfolding ahead of me that is pretty clear at the moment – and I’m not sure that it’s exactly what I want. I’ve got a great career going now, but I’m not getting that far along in terms of my writing aspirations which seems to be a bigger deal than I previously thought. It’s not that I’m not happy and enjoying life here – I am, absolutely – it’s just that wanting to be a writer (and not devoting the time to it), makes it very hard for me to be okay to settle with my life exactly as it is! (Yes, it is hard work being me sometimes :))

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