Honeymoon Redux

AO NANG, THAILAND, May 6-11, 2013

Leah: You know things are gonna work out when you start your day with breakfast in bed and end it with donuts in bed. But perhaps I should backtrack? Our beloved Bangkok host family drove us an hour across town to the bus station, helped us secure our tickets and shoved us toward the gate with hugs, entreaties to return, and a bag of fried chicken and shrimp balls, lest we starve on our 13 hour overnight bus ride. Our destination?  Krabi, a city right smack dab in the middle of beach country, Thailand. From there we transferred 25km down the road to the beachside hamlet of Ao Nang and the Baan Taveesri guest house. We had no plans, no guidebook, no timeline and nobody to meet. And it’s here that I diverge from the script.

When we write our blog we usually take turns writing and both proof/edit and choose pictures together before we post it and make it live. However, for the first time since our trip began I’m going rogue and publishing this post without Steve seeing it just because I want it to be a surprise and there are things that need to be said. I could regale you with tales of what we ate, the trinkets the roadside vendors sold, Thai culture and other travel tales, but this is an ode to my husband and our marriage on the road. Perhaps I should walk you through a typical day to set the tone:

1. Breakfast in bed (vanilla and aloe vera yogurt with taro/black bean/pineapple or custard buns).
2. Don bathing suits and lather up with sunscreen, walk 20 minutes to the beach.
3. Find a shady beach spot. Swim, read, nap, eat, repeat.
4. Tramp back to the hotel, stopping to eat a deliciously cheap lunch at our favorite restaurant, run by a Muslim family out of the front of their house. Buy tomorrow’s breakfast from 7Eleven, as well as afternoon refreshments.
5. Nap in the air conditioning, read, watch Game of Thrones
6. Late afternoon drinks on our balcony overlooking the cliffs. Watch sunset, listen to the call to prayer echoing from the mosques around town.
7. Dinner across the street or next door, usually green curry and Pad Thai.
8. Buy deep fried donut balls from a street vendor, return home.
9. Shower.
10. Watch movie from the hotel’s collection while eating said donuts, pass out before 11 p.m. Repeat above sequence the following five days.

We had well-intentioned plans to take the local boats to other beaches and the surrounding islands (they filmed parts of The Beach near here), but somehow the heat, laziness, local beauty and utter lack of motivation meant that every day we picked out the same patch of beach and fell into an easy rhythm of not doing a damn thing. It didn’t take long before we realized that this felt all too similar to our honeymoon, even more so because we experienced a fair amount of crazy rainstorms and lightning, just like our time in Aruba back in September of 2010.

And more important to me, I fell in love with my husband all over again (yes, hand vomit if you must, but it’s the truth). As loyal readers will know, we’ve had our share of highs and lows on this trip, especially because being with your spouse 24/7/365 isn’t the fairytale many assume it to be. However, this disconnection from our trip, from having to do anything and meet anyone was all it took to be reminded of what an absolute blessing it is to be married to this incredible man and sharing this experience of a lifetime together. Too often I take him for granted, or get annoyed and anxious and he becomes the lucky recipient of that day’s diatribe just because I’m tired/hot/hungry/all of the above.

In Ao Nang I was able to stop being Leah, the travel companion, and remember what it feels like to be Leah, the best friend and wife. And for one of the first times in ages my days with Steve felt like the way we were before. Before our year of sorrows in 2011 when I lost Jayna, when we lost Minger, when a dear friend lost her baby and another friend lost his dad. That year changed our emotional intimacy, physical intimacy and everything we thought we knew. While we still made it through, I still tend to see us and our marriage as the “before” or “after” period, depending on which side of 2011 it falls. I know that with continued time and healing eventually such a division will cease to exist and we’ll just be us, scarred but healed. However, Ao Nang gave me that reminder of unbridled joy and the delight in waking up next to your partner without a care in the world.

We laughed like there was no was no tomorrow. From silent snickering at the Euro men wearing skimpy speedos that did naught to cover their pasty paunches and dangly man bits, to our ridiculous and juvenile dance moves created and fueled by late night sugar consumption that led to us collapsing on the bed holding our stomachs, I felt deliriously giddy. We reveled in the ordinary as well, whether cavorting with the resident Golden Retriever puppy, Carrot, perusing the aisles of 7Eleven for random tasty treats, or watching the giant geckos chase down their winged dinner.Then there were the conversations that stretched for hours on our balcony or nestled in the sand as we wove dreams and thoughts into the mental tapestry that’s becoming our envisioned post-trip life. A home, careers, little(s), pets, travel… We had conversations just like this in Aruba at the beginning of our marriage and while we’ve obviously had them since then, the ones I shared with Steve in Ao Nang had a special resonance and a feeling of “it’s all going be okay” that the others were lacking. 

I loved holding his hand despite the heat, making out in the waves like teenagers and whispering prayers together in the evening as our eyelids closed and our bodies surrendered to dreamland accompanied by the hypnotic hum of the air conditioner. I often feel like our marriage was forged in the fires of Hell, which sometimes means that I feel cheated out of the lovey-dovey newlywed phase. This week I was reminded that we create our own happiness in a lifelong partnership… whether at home, on the road or wherever we may find ourselves. While sometimes it takes removal from both real and perceived obligations to see the truth, it’s glimpses like this that remind me how damn lucky I am to have this man by my side: in good and bad, health and the heaves, across California or conquering the world. My thanks to Ao Nang for providing the backdrop to our hedonistic revelry, from too much food and sun to late night movies and adult beverages al fresco. It was the honeymoon I had so long ago revisited at a time when it means so much. A time for me to experience the way we were, the way we are and the way we will be, every transition a natural and necessary step in this partnership. Love you sweets, thanks for my Honeymoon #2.

CLICK FOR PICTURES OF AO NANG.

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Marivic Guevara May 11, 2013 at 11:01 AM

I love this ode to Steve miss Leah! You guys are great and I have to remind myself that I'm not just a travel/business partner on this Startup program. I am also a life partner and companion to someone I love who, luckily loves me back. Cheers to you both on your 2nd honeymoon! Can't wait to see you both in North America somewhere :) xo

Leah May 12, 2013 at 2:52 AM

Amen my friend! Always thinking of you two and your endeavors, can't wait for that NA reunion at some point in the future (Steve has still never seen NYC...)!

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