For my Mother, “Susie”

“There’s no love like first love,” my mother likes to say… I picture her in dirty cut-off shorts on her front porch, 16, coal black hair and big blue eyes, waiting on my dad to pick her up. First love. It’s a biased thing to say when you’ve only had one, mom!

I know she doesn’t always understand my choices, anymore than I can understand what it’s like

My mom and dad
My mom and dad

to share your life with the same person from the time your 17… Our lives are very different. And despite that, my life is very much the result of her. It’s the result of lullabies, handmade flashcards, long hours at a hardware store and setting an example of a strong, independent woman. (It’s only the travel bug I got from somewhere else!)

My mother told me that on the first day of kindergarten, my oldest brother, James, cried and didn’t want to get out of the car. And my other brother, Lyle, cried just as hard, not ready to be away from home. Then there was me… when we pulled up to the front of the school, I was skipping out the door before mom could say goodbye! It made her cry.

It’s funny how in many ways we are who we are at age 5. I was, and always have been, ready to go. I don’t know why travel excites some people while it frightens or doesn’t interest others. I just know that I’m addicted to it. And not traveling for the sake of taking pictures of things – mountains, temples, waterfalls. Sure, they are there and they are great, but it’s always been about people for me. People fascinate me more than any wilderness can.

As I sit writing this blog post I am in a shared kitchen of a guest house in Chiang Mai. The owner, Gina, is a warm, petite woman who knows how to run the show. Her English is fluent and she’s extremely helpful to her guests. To my left there is a corkboard wall of cards written by previous visitors to Gina and her family (no surprise). Her teenage daughters apathetically run the front counter. Her younger daughter enthusiastically helps clean the rooms. And her 2 year old charms everyone with big brown eyes, a button nose and the occasional “hello.”

The family cat is sitting behind me on a chair. She just had kittens and she’s been nursing them in the top drawer of the kitchen. (It’s cracked open, of course ;). She likes to hang out by the plates on the shelves, and I often see her curled up there or walking over bowls. I don’t question it. I pet her and I wash my dishes before using them!

Toast and butter and jam are put out every morning for us. Eggs on sale for only 6 Baht each if you want to cook them. Coffee, tea, and hot cocoa are free. There are bicycles in the garage and a few scooters for renting. (I take one of the bikes to yoga in the mornings.) I haven’t even really STARTED to live here in Chiang Mai yet and it’s already home. It’s just that easy.

And, mom, I know there is a 3 bedroom house back in Sikeston, Missouri. And you are the center of the wheel, with everything else spinning around it… I know I am far away from home and it seems strange that I should not be there (apathetically, charmingly, or otherwise ;)). But you are here; you are everywhere I go. Questioning my decisions even as I question them. And helping me to make the right choices. Thank you for doing such a great job of “running the show” that you enabled me the greatest love of my life… My independence.

Happy Mother’s Day

Recent photo with my mom and dad in Missouri
Recent photo with my mom and dad in Missouri

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