A bit on my first day in KPP (Kamphaengphet)

Again disclaimer: For a writing major I guess this should matter more to me, but I have thrown grammar and spelling caution to the wind.

I have a habit of apologizing. Close friends know this. And it’s not like I’m saying it just to say it.. there are probably a hundred other times I’ve wanted to say it, but refrained. I really am sorry for whatever it was. I have this, again, fear of disappointing people or something. I used to be so much worse with that. Always comparing myself to others and nitpicking at my faults, apologizing for things I couldn’t do or didn’t want to do.
But I toy with this idea of forgiveness.

Forgive. 

If I could just forgive myself, I think I would stop apologizing for everything.
Stop fearing disappointment. 

It’s like an equation I can’t figure out. I feel like forgiving someone for something is easy for me. That’s not to say I wouldn’t forget, but I can forgive. If someone is late for an appointment with me or someone doesn’t understand me, someone offends me or someone hurts me, I can forgive. If someone goes with their gut, their own idea instead of my suggestion or advice, I can understand and support them. 

But why can’t I do that for myself.
It’s okay to be confused or to not get something right, to get lost, to be misunderstood, right?
It’s okay to go your own way, discover things on your own without the input of others, right?
It’s easier to write than practice for me.

So I get caught in this “im sorry” cycle; always bypassing forgiveness. 
I don’t really go with my first instincts, fear of disappointing. I end up saying I’m sorry for everything or wishing I had gone with my gut.
All relates to being comfortable with myself, I suppose.

Kamphaengphet day 1.
Dan seems overly confident that I will be able to drive and take him to school on the moped by myself during rush hour in a foreign country. I didn’t even know what downshift meant.

It was strange that he had this confidence because I know he was there on one of our first dates. A simple bike ride that turned into a marathon,

Just for me.

I’m pedaling wildly, sweating, listening to him chat casually about this and that. I believe I mustered out yeah’s and cool’s in between breathes. He’s cycling, really meandering, yanno taking his time, behind me. I hear ..

“What gear are you in?”

“Gear?”

Needless to say, I had my first lesson on gears after sweating for a few miles all while trying to look cute and easy going. 
So I was surprised when Dan thought this moped thing would come so easily to me.
I woke up with my stomach in knots.
He pops up all excited to have breakfast with me at school ( and by breakfast he means lunch or dinner in the morning, not complaining. Who doesn’t love chicken noodle soup and coconut water to get you started in the morning.)

Here is where I should have opened my mouth and said, “I really don’t feel comfortable driving alone on something I’ve never been on in a town ive been in for a night.” I get dressed and follow him down to the damned contraption. We speed down the dirt road and bang a left.
And this would be where my brain shut off.
There were mopeds and trucks and cars, horns honking out of nowhere scaring the daylights out of you to pay respect to a shrine on the side of the road. There were lefts and rights made, potholes to avoid, and landmarks to remember (okay, by landmarks I mean a cart that had fried bananas. I’d say that’s as important as a landmark.)

I’m naturally directionally challenged.
I thought Dan would’ve remembered the time I messaged him a few weeks prior to my arrival. I was lost trying to find a parking garage. He was in Thailand. He was all the way in Thailand directing his girlfriend to a building she had ultimately been standing in front of the entire time.But hey, let’s really throw Jill into Kamphaengphet on the devil’s mode of transportation and see what happens. Mopeds seem cool and all, but when they are whizzing in between and around vans and trucks and cars.. It’s not so cool.

Driving a moped in Thailand is not like driving a moped in the States. I want a clear picture drawn here.
United States: Helmet, push start most likely, sitting like you’re in a chair with your cute little shoes flat in front of you, possibly you’re wearing a new dress you can just tuck in front of you, maybe a little basket for your purse. You are the only one on the moped. Okay, maybe your friend jumped on the back because they live down the street. Here’s the big one. Other motor vehicles see you and are aware of you, you are probably the only moped around and they are probably starring at you and going slow enough so they can appreciate that they are actually seeing a moped in use, on the road, in traffic. (Unless you are on some sort of giant college campus, I’ve seen quite a few at UF. If you’re one of those places, disregard this. I don’t know your traffic patterns.)

Thailand: Helmet only during the day. You are NOT cool if you are rocking a helmet at night. Again, helmet NOT COOL at night. Unless it’s a push start, you are not wearing your new maxi skirt. (You wouldn’t want the bottom to get caught under the pedals or whatever they’re called and stall out in front of three or four carts selling food.. that had lines. Lesson learned.) You are one of many mopeds. Match their speed or get out of the way. Getting out of the way? Get out of the way further. Watch out for the truck that decides to go around the line of traffic you are waiting in. Why are you waiting traffic, you should be weaving through it. Not weaving? Watch out of the cars that have decided to. You are most likely not the only one on the moped. Can’t leave your new puppy at home? It’ll be okay just nuzzling its self into your back sitting behind you. Dogs need to learn to balance, right? And we in the States need mini vans and big SUVs to take our kids to school or soccer practice. BULL. Family of four. Couple of helmets for the parents. One moped. Done deal. Let’s just add in driving on the other side of road, too.

So, Dan gets us to school. I assume he was giving me directions along the way or maybe he was talking about the weather or sharing a bit of history. I can honestly say I have no idea what he said. My ears checked out and my brain was like “Peace bro, good luck with alladat. Do you know how to say “hospital, please” in Thai?” I follow Dan to check in and meet a few people whose names floated out of my head; I wouldn’t need to remember them after my inevitable moped disaster, would I? Dan orders something for me to eat. I really had no appetite. I drank my coconut water in silence.
This would have been another GREAT opportunity to open my mouth and say I wasn’t comfortable. But, it just stayed closed and the “I’m sorry’s” would soon be the only thing flying out.

We walk out to the moped. I stare at him.

How do I start it again? I put my feet where while doing what? And was it a left past the temple and 2 rights past a field? Where was that fried banana landmark stand again? I just kept staring at him as these thoughts played on repeat. Partly due to the “I really don’t want to f-ing do this” I managed to whisper and the tears that started to form in my eyes, Dan, eventually, realizes he’s going to have to drive me back. We took our time going back and Dan really teaches me how to drive (and all about those gear things.)
But once I was able to speak without crying out of frustration, all I said was “I’m sorry.” Over and over again. I was sorry for making him leave school and sorry I couldn’t just hop on the moped and know what I was doing. I was sorry that I didn’t go with my first instinct and say I wasn’t sure about driving. I was sorry it turned into a big deal. I was sorry, I was sorry, I was sorry.

What the hell did I have to be sorry about? When I think about it, I can see and understand why I was saying “I’m sorry”, but really.. No one was injured, Dan didn’t lose his job because he had to drive his girlfriend back home (which is 5 minutes away) , all of Thailand did not come to an abrupt stop because I couldn’t drive a moped. However, if I had gone with my gut, trusted myself, I could have avoided the whole dramatic situation. 
If could have just forgiven myself for not being able to do something, realized it was okay and talked about it, I wouldn’t have felt the need to apologize. 
Repeatedly.

The “I’m sorry’s” really got their work in my first day.
At the Muay Thai gym, I think I might’ve said “Sorry” a thousand times in my head, out loud maybe only two hundred.
I was so damn nervous. My heart was racing.
Dan introduced me to the trainers, “She train, she fighter.”

Fighter?

I think you need to have fought.. to be a fighter.

*I’m working on that part. If this trip turns out to be more than just a trip, that’ll definitely change. One of the trainers asked me if I wanted to fight, once he had heard I’d be here for a month. That’s an iffy month of training. My diet is changing and I’m learning to adjust it, but it isn’t as healthy as it was when I was at home. I’d be traveling on weekends and during the week only training at night. (That will also change to two a days, fingers crossed.) I think I’d like to be a bit more prepared to take a fight in Thailand, against a Thai girl, who has most likely been training longer than I have. And by most likely I mean she was probably doing Muay Thai in the womb. I told him I’d think about it. He told me it would be at the end of the month. I told him, again, I’d think about it. A few days later, I declined. Said no. Decided against it. I told him, many times with respect, no thank you. I come to train the other day and am playing a round of soccer with some of the Thai kids. The trainer pulls me aside and says he has a fight for me this weekend. The girl is “only 53 kilos, not good, four or five fights, but not good. Only box at her gym.” Uhhh…. I thought we had gone over this. I politely declined, again. Hopefully, I didn’t offend him, but I think I want to be a little more adjusted before stepping in the ring in Thailand. Im not sure barely two weeks qualifies me to be well-adjusted. 

Anyway, a few of the boys chuckled when Dan said I was a fighter. I just smiled and tried to keep breathing. We dropped our stuff over on a table. There’s a ring. Four or five bags behind it. Some tires scattered around the front and a long road to run on. What else do you really need? (Besides the addition of the jump rope I just bought.) 
Right okay, should be easy to just.. yanno.. start. 
I couldn’t get my legs to move. 

Dan’s like “warm up”, I’m like “I can’t breathe and I’m sweating already.” 

But I didn’t say that. I said.
“I’m sorry.”
I’m not even sure that applies here. What did I have to be sorry for! I was in a foreign country, in a foreign situation, with people speaking a foreign language. Adjusting would take more than just an introduction. I only recently got semi comfortable getting in the ring at Tampa Muay Thai.
But the “I’m sorry’s” ran wild that night. Every time I made eye contact with Dan, an “I’m sorry” found it’s way out. I started warming up with a kid who had started running. At the time I wasn’t sure where we would be running too, but I ran behind him anyway. Turns out it was up and down the road, increasing speed on the way back. We did this five or six times. Then he carried on with whatever he was doing and I walked wide eyed back to the table where my stuff was. Dan was already off the tire and into a round on the bag. I just stood there unsure of what to do. 

Dan caught my eye and came over to me, 
“Just do something, wrap your hands, shadowbox, keep moving.” 
If my limbs were cooperating, that would be what I would do, DAN! 
I just said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know. I’m sorry.” 

I finally got my body to move again and I wrapped my hands. Dan moved over to a lower bag and let me have the one he was working on, which was easier to work with. Focusing on the bag, I had an easier time dealing with my surroundings. Nothing else really mattered then. The “I’m sorry’s” took a break. Three rounds on the bag felt like a welcomed familiarity. Last thirty seconds, go hard. Ten push-ups between rounds.

When the trainer called me into the ring, I already felt just sorry. 
I was nervous and knew I was tense. One night back home, a trainer said I needed to relax or put a button on my back because I was walking around like once of those rock em sock em robots. I felt sorry he had to deal with me. Where was my confidence? I misunderstood what he said, an “I’m sorry” came to my mouth. I had some sort of technique wrong, an “I’m sorry” came. I was just too nervous to speak.. so it just kind of hung there waiting for the next time my brain tried to shoot it out.

Why was I sorry? This is a learning experience. Messing up, falling down, it’s all part of the experience.
It’s how we learn, adapt, get stronger, grow wiser. 
Why, then, do I have this urge to apologize for things I don’t know or things I try to do, but haven’t yet mastered?

That was a hell of a first day. Dan asked me what my 2nd entry was going to be about and I told him it was mostly about my first day. He looked at me puzzled, “you mean about unpacking and sitting around the apartment? You didn’t leave.” Very true, I did unpack, clean (yeah.. wait what? Jillian cleaned?), and wait for him to get done with school. I also had two very big moments being introduced to a foreign country on a whole new level. I wasn’t, I’m not, just a tourist here. There isn’t a guide or a translator. I have to have confidence here, smile even when I’m unsure. I can’t get frustrated with myself when I don’t understand something or can’t do something.
There’s too much I don’t understand! 

I guess it’s all about reminding yourself of that, which is hard to do. It’s hard to not feel ridiculous for all the little things I can’t do. It’s hard to accept that I won’t get everything right away. It’s hard to say that cleaning, running errands, and training was my day and that I was nervous or frustrated the entire time. I just have to accept that, be comfortable uncomfortable and
stop apologizing for being human, forgive myself.

This is a big world, a very big world. Everyone notes, with ever-developing technology especially, how small the world has become.. but if you really think about it, IT’S HUGE. So many people each having their own ideas and opinions, emotions and thoughts, cultures and traditions, actions and rules… If we all acted like I do, apologizing
for all the things we don’t understand,
can’t do yet,
feel uncomfortable about,
we’d never grow or learn from each other.
I may have not had a grand physical adventure my first day in Kamphaengphet, but I’d consider it an adventure of its own kind, a mental prep for the experiences yet to come.

One thought on “A bit on my first day in KPP (Kamphaengphet)

  1. Omigosh, Jill, I can’t stop laughing even while reading your blog aloud to Jack. My cheeks and belly hurt from laughing. Your writing is absolutely delightful. I feel like I’ve just seen a full-length comedy. Great job! Keep the stories coming.

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