I was having a dream about a guy with nice abs when I was pulled out of sleep to the repeated cries of, “Help me.”
A moment later I realized it was coming from outside, from the back of my apartment. Then I heard, “Why did you leave me? I hope you die. Die already.”
Then I knew who it was.
There is an old white man who lives in the apartment building next to mine who greets the day, it seems, with a goddamn it. I can’t believe this shit. Or more goddamn its. From what I gather, since the sound bounces off between our buildings, he’s upset that the microwave doesn’t work and that the floor or refrigerator he just cleaned is dirty again. I know – he’s got problems.
It’s amazing how quickly he brings me down. He keeps odd hours too. When I’m sleeping I’ll be woken up to his swearing. I keep earplugs by my bed now so I can pop them in and go back to sleep. I’m afraid though that one day I’ll wake up and sound like him.
I want to yell back, of course. Hey shut up, no one’s interested, or could you please stop swearing. But this could just aggravate the problem. And since my deck is covered in wire it would just feel like I was talking from behind my prison cell. I have a tin cup, now that I think about it. I could run the cup across the chain link fence.
Or yell, Lalalalalalaa and cover my ears like Michael Scott.
I greet my mornings by meditating so you can see how this is the exact opposite of what I hope to produce in my life. Actually this man reminds me of a guy I dated, Mr. Angry. I’ll let that sink in.
And so while I might write about my experiences as an expat I’m also very aware you can live anywhere and make everyone around you as miserable as you. Just because we are abroad doesn’t make it any more glamorous.
Before last night I had heard him talking on the phone asking for a bottle of tequila. And before last night I wondered what Thai woman in her Sanskrit mind would be with such a man. I’ve heard her calm him down. But I guess she finally had enough.
I picked up my mobile and saw the time. 1 am. I could hear the neighbors rouse out of sleep as well to investigate the moaning cries.
“I can’t get up. Somebody help me get up.”
The tee shirt slogan, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up, inched its way through my mind but it wasn’t very funny. I entertained the idea of helping him. I mean it’s hard to listen to someone say help me without doing anything. But I didn’t think an Asian woman would be of much assistance in this situation.
Many expats, old retired men come to Chiang Mai in hopes of finding themselves. Or at least find themselves in a bar drinking and groping the local women. I see them wandering the streets or the mall looking lost. Anyone who has lived here has seen these men.
I’m reminded that my problems are small. And that when someone falls into the deep well of misery, their cries echo but ultimately they have to help themselves. The well is an illusion, just like the idea that Chiang Mai Thailand will make everything better again.
I put in my ear buds and turned on my MP3. His cries eventually subsided and I finally fell back to sleep.