We have to force ourselves to get up because time is so scarce and valuable. Less than 48h to make up for the last two years of distance and the years to come. Just another day till we say goodbye. It will probably take years until we see each other again.
To make matters worse, the rain returns. It pours down, creating huge puddles and causing wet legs. People squeeze together under umbrellas and roofs; so do we. When the rain finally ceases, a Thai friend of Kevin’s picks us up and drives us to a mall. To my surprise he’s 37 years old and I feel so, so young. If my stomach wasn’t making me crazy, I’d laugh about the fact that I’m around two Asian guys who are almost ten respectively twenty years older than me, none of us communicating in our native tongue.
After some torturing hours, we finally treat ourselves with an amazing Thai massage. The young lady makes me feel better again and allows me to take a portrait of her. I chase her around the room, looking for the best light, but the result is mediocre.
Another night out, this time with some locals. There’s another girl in the group. She’s 32, but looks as old as me; we immediately click and act like besties. I’m glad that I’ve found someone I can talk to, I’ve started to feel like Kevin’s clingy, dependent pendant. A bit weird for someone used to independence. It makes me feel more attached than I like.
Liters of beers are ordered and consumed. Very tipsy, we go to a big openair club and I’m not allowed in because I’m not twenty yet – my birthday is in two weeks. I can’t believe how ridiculous that is. My companions have a plan how to sneak me in; I think it’s hopeless and sillily insist in just staying outside and wait for them, but I’m overruled. Luckily.
At the end, I find myself within the barrier after using the girl’s IC at the same entrance where I (with bright greenish hair – ludicrously easy to recognize) was rejected just ten minutes ago. It’s ridiculous, but it doesn’t matter, we give each other victorious hugs and it feels like we’ve been best friends for years. How deceiving alcohol can be.
We get free drinks and Kevin buys us all shots, as if we hadn’t drunk enough. We dance and drink more. Whenever a group photo is taken, he makes sure I’m not with him, even though we’re really just friends and nothing more. I understand his reasons, but can’t help but to feel hurt, treated like a secret lover, someone to hide while there is nothing wrong with our friendship.
The night proceeds and the roles are swapped. He’s no longer the protector, but me. His head hurts, he feels unwell, I blow my remaining Thai bahts to get water for him and ask myself why I as the girl and youngest in the group end up for the second time as the person who has to take care of someone?
Early in the morning we drop onto our beds, exhausted; I scribble into my diary before dozing off and my alarm rings two hours later. I have to get my flight, but I just turn it off and fall asleep again. For some reason, I fortunately wake up again half an hour later, just in time to get ready for my departure.
Since Kevin doesn’t react to my calls, I wake him up with cold water. It’s cruel, but I don’t want to say goodbye already, I don’t want to go to the airport alone. So he accompanies me to the airport, his head throbbing.
Wistfully I sit beside him on a bench, my heart tightens. That’s it. The intense days full of friendship are over and we’re returning to short conversations and distance. It hurts. Leaving with the knowledge that we’re going back to our routine of hardly communicating hurts, but at least, this time I know it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care.
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. I guess it’s become my motto since I have to say goodbye all the time.
Now, half a year later, things have gone the way I predicted. Almost zero communication. And again – even though he tells me differently – it feels like he doesn’t care. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural or personal thing, but if I neither want to let go nor continue to suffer from it, I have to go through the confusing process of learning that not all friendships work the same way and embrace it the way it is. There are so many lessons to learn.