I didn't expect to fall for a guy in Pai,Thailand. In fact, I promised myself I wouldn't...
All I wanted was dinner. Scratch. Dinner and wifi. That was my plan. My mission. That was what I was looking for when I was walking down the street on one of my first nights in Pai.
I certainly wasn’t looking to meet a guy. In fact, I had promised myself that I wouldn’t. No men in Pai. I’d been hurt enough lately and the last thing I needed was to meet yet another guy who would just break my heart. I needed Pai to just be fun, relaxing, devoid of any mental drama.
But then fate, or maybe a South African working at Almost Famous, pulled me in.
I was just walking by when Marius stopped me and told me I should sit down with these two guys to have a drink. They had good mojitos there, he said. He could order me a hamburger to be delivered, he said.
And so, I sat down.
I spent most of my time that night talking with Beanie, an English guy who had been more or less traveling for the past 10 years and who had been living in Pai, working as a bartender at another bar, since January.
We talked a lot at Almost Famous, and I think I totally impressed him with my party trick of “watch Val try to light a lighter” (note: I can’t). And then later that night I went by his bar with some others I had met and we talked more there. And then the next night I went back, sat at his bar until 5 in the morning.
He asked me if I’d watch the England football game with him the next night and I said yes. And, of course, I had no idea what he meant by that. Was he just trying to guarantee business at his bar? Was he just wanting me to hang out there? Did he mean with him with him like a date or something? Would he really want to watch a football game that was important to him with someone who so very obviously had no interest in football if it wasn’t because he was interested? I had no idea.
The next night I showed up 1:30 in the morning, but the TV at the bar was out and wouldn’t be able to show the game. Beanie mentioned that he invited a lot of people to watch and so he wasn’t quite sure what to do.
He had invited a lot of people. I started to scratch any idea that he had meant this to be a date from my head.
But then he decided on a new plan. He had a TV in his bungalow, we could watch it there.
I said OK.
We bought some beers to go and took his motorbike back to his place.
Of course, when we got to his place, the remote wouldn’t work and we couldn’t change the TV from some foreign language program about the pyramids in Egypt.
Again, he didn’t know what to do. He considered going to a rival bar, but he said he wasn’t sure if that felt right to him.
When he asked me I said “I don’t care the game, so it doesn’t matter.” I was a girl. Sitting in a guy’s bed. Saying she didn’t care about a football game that she had come over to watch.
Note to men: if an American girl who says several times throughout the night that she has no interest in soccer comes over to your bungalow to watch a game it is not the game she is interested in. Just sayin’.
We sat on the porch for a bit, talking, naming giraffes.
I asked him what his real name was. Mainly, because I really wanted to kiss him and didn’t want to kiss him unless I knew his real name. He hesitated a lot. And I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But he told me.
And then we sat there. And he lit a cigarette. And I thought maybe I was wrong about the whole thing. And then he picked up the cigarette. Looked at it. Put it back down. Turned to me. And kissed me.
He then told me that no one ever asks his name. He told me he wasn’t sure if he was reading it all wrong. He told me that he was either going to light the cigarette or kiss me. And that he lit the cigarette. But then it burnt out and so, he took it as a sign.
I told him that I didn’t give a damn about football. And that I was there.
And then he kissed me again.
Over the next two weeks we spent almost every day together. I hung out at his bar until way early in the morning. We drank at Almost Famous. We drank at Blah Blah. We went at open mic nights. We watched movies in his bungalow. We took a drive or two on his motorbike.
It was nice. He was nice. I liked him a lot and, quite frankly, it was nice to have someone that I wanted to see again that wanted to see me again. For once.
But at the same time, I knew he was staying in Pai for a while longer until he went off to New Zealand to work. And I knew that I needed to keep traveling and that staying in Pai or going to New Zealand in the near future weren’t in my plans.
After two weeks I mentioned I was thinking of leaving.
Later in the night, as Spain was beating Italy, he asked what I was thinking about. And I said I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay or go. In the morning he asked me something that he said he was afraid to ask: was I considering staying because of him.
Truth be told I would have never stayed in Pai as long as I had had it not been for him. And so, he told me I should go. Because we were on different paths. Because we would have to end soon anyways. Because there was no reason to postpone the inevitable.
And so, a couple of days later, I left.
He kissed me goodbye and told me I was “the best.”
And I cried as my mini van pulled away.
I will miss him. I do miss him. But I know that our relationship was just what it was supposed to be. And I’m thankful that someone showed me that someone could stick around. That someone could want to get to know me both before and after kissing me. And I’m thankful to have had the longest relationship I’ve had in ten years, even if it had to end. And I’m thankful to have known Beanie, even if we had to say goodbye.