What Do You Miss?

Welcome to my random musings about the world, on a weekly-to-occasional basis.

Where we are: Still in Bangkok. Still going to physical therapy three times a week, and doing the exercises three times a day. Yesterday we had a traditional Thanksgiving buffet at a place called Bourbon Street Oyster Bar. ‘Twas tasty.

What do you miss?

I keep a running list of the questions people ask most often about our nomadic lifestyle—it’s a long list. One that I find particularly interesting is What do you miss most about home?

It’s interesting to me, not because there are a lot of things I miss about home (mostly just loved ones and grits), but because the question itself makes a lot of assumptions.

No one ever asks what I miss about all the other places I’ve been.

I was so happy to get back to Thailand, because when I’m not here, I miss all the pandan-flavored desserts and beautiful jasmine flower wreaths available on every corner, and the fact that I can get the best haircut of my life—complete with a full head, shoulder, arm and hand massage, for $35.

When everything went sideways in early 2020, and we fled Mexico in a panic, we hadn’t been there long enough for me to get my fill of tacos. I’m still seriously jonesing.

I will always and forever miss Scotland when I’m not there, because it’s so unspeakably beautiful, and when my eyes aren’t full of that beauty, they are sad.

Pizza is almost always a good thing (Lee’s favorite joke: pizza is like sex—even bad pizza is better than no pizza), but pizza in Italy is the Platonic ideal of pizza. Whenever we eat pizza (which is often) there is always, just below my consciousness, a low vibration of yearning—I miss Italy.

I miss everything about Turkey, all the time. The baklava, the views, the ruins, the people, the history.

This is why I’m completely ruined for ever living a normal life again. I can’t imagine having to give up access to all those things that I love, in all those places. I fear no single place will be enough for me—I’ll always be missing something else, somewhere else.

I don’t miss every place we’ve been—a few were in the interesting-but-once-was-enough category, and a few I couldn’t wait to leave—but mostly when we get ready to leave a country, I feel a pang of sadness. Lee likens it to the end of summer camp: that feeling that you’ve had a special, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you’ll never be able to have quite that same experience again. You fold it into yourself and say good-bye.

But it’s always there, the memory of the magic—you’ll always miss it, somewhere in your soul.

From my writer’s notebook:

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Cambodian government is trying very hard to negotiate the return of artifacts that were looted from ancient Khmer ruins all over the country. Douglas Latchford, a British scholar/explorer/trafficker who died a few years ago, has been associated with many of the items in question, and museums all over the world are scrambling to figure out which items in their collections were looted from Cambodia.

Well—the plot thickens. It turns out one of Latchford’s best buds was a guy named Jim Thompson, whose life story I stumbled across the first time I visited Thailand, when I read The Ideal Man, by Joshua Kurlantzick.

Thompson was in the OSS during the Second World War, which eventually took him to Thailand. He fell in love with the country, and settled here after the war ended. He quickly found his way into the upper levels of social and political power, and became a very well-known character here. He is still credited with single-handedly reviving the Thai silk industry (I have two shirts from the Jim Thompson silk company hanging in the closet right now), and his house in Bangkok is now one of my favorite museums: he collected several traditional Thai houses from different parts of the country, moved them to Bangkok, and put them together to create one really beautiful home, surrounded by a lush tropical garden.

Thompson disappeared into thin air in 1967, and I do love a good mystery. But the looting piece of the story is distressing. The long history of art and antiquities theft is complicated and ugly.

Take care,


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