One of those mornings. In the days not so long ago before I began this blog, I had a far different life. Sundays were spent in a favorite café: two bagels, three coffees, the New York Review of Books, and plenty of time to indulge my fascination with the shadows of moving across the wall, those Sundays passed in a kind of a hush, a sweet suspension of time and space which allowed the mind to move up and away. Nearly two years ago, all of that has changed. I now work seven days a week and Sundays are tough: the mall where I work is a hive of people actually enjoying the day: the families with protesting and howling children, the western guys my age out swanning about with the very young, dark-skinned, tattooed girls they met in nearby bars last night, and the middle class Thais snapping their fingers at waiters and shop assistants and grimacing over the horrible western guys my age with their local ladies. Saw my first mullet in around twenty years today, a harbinger of the impending tourist season and low-budget fares that bring some of America’s more colorful characters to the Land of Smiles.
Hair was an issue today. Running late for my commute and worrying about whether or not a taxi driver would deign to pick me up, I jumped out of the shower without rinsing the conditioner out of my hair. Slumped in the seat of the taxi, I noticed that my hair simply wasn’t drying. How strange, I thought, and I pondered this as I once pondered those shadows moving across the café walls. By the time we screeched to a stop in from of the mall, I was possessed of an insight: the conditioner. Got a table and called one Thai friend for advice; she panicked, “Go to a hair stylist and have them wash your hair! If you don’t, you’ll develop a rash and your hair will fall out!” What drama. It seemed extreme, but I had an hour to kill so I went looking for a shampoo. I located two stylists. Shabby old creature than I am now, I was completely ignored when I walked into the shops; the girls glanced at me once and then returned to their conversations, leaving me to check the price list. Good God, a shampoo costs 500 Thai baht at these places—my entire haircut at a local Thai barber costs 150 baht. I decided to risk rash and hair loss and tough it out, stoically teaching two businessmen with my damp curls dripping onto my shirt. Some things are worse even than mullets.
An otherwise uneventful Sunday. Got out of the mall as soon as I could and rushed home to rinse out my highly-conditioned hair. The internet was off and on as it has been these last few weeks, thus depriving me of my Tumblr refuge, and so I spent some time polishing the furniture, with special attention to the cabinets my Buddhas stand on. I noticed that my internet connection had been restored and dove in to post a few things but the connection didn’t last long. And so I read, Roberto Bolano’s “Nazi Literature in the Americas” which, perhaps a bit weirdly, I find hilarious.
There was none of the screaming from next door that has wafted through my window and brought tears to my eyes on recent recent Sundays—the Japanese woman next door brow-beating, taunting, mocking, and beating her 4-year old son; I wondered if the prayers I said for the little boy when I got home to mt Buddhas had had any effect—no, even my monk friends have told me that we can’t actually pray for anything to come, to happen, to be. Whatever the reason, then, the little guy seemed to have been spared his mother’s banshee screeching and violent blows today. Thank God—or whomever.
Somewhere today, bagels were eaten and coffees swilled in sunny cafes, but not in my world. But I’m not complaining—well, not too much. I did a little teaching, survived grotesque rashes and sudden baldness, polished the furniture—all that I still own after the events that brought me to this blog a Nobody—and a child was spared a beating from the person he most trusted in this world. All of us, the actors in this quiet day, we were the shadows moving across these walls.
—Michael Boiano, Bangkok, October 7, 2012