Wordless Wednesdays are going to turn into my gratitude journal or gratitude pictures. I was already thinking about new categories, tags, labels since a new look for my site coming up! But the idea came together through a couple of blogs, sheof108names and Susannah Conway’s August challenge, and finally through writing for my other blog.
I became consciously aware of gratitude/thankfulness when I came to Thailand at the sour age of 16. Oh sure, we were told in school that Thanksgiving was a day of thanks but I’m not sure how much of that REALLY sunk in. My mom told my brother and I, often enough, that we were lucky to have the things that we had. But, again, I’m not sure how much all of that talk from adults, REALLY sunk in.
Ironically, it sunk in the bathroom, my family’s bathroom in Lamphun, to be specific. It didn’t bother me that the house was made of dark wood, on stilts and we had to sleep on the floor. What bothered me was the bathroom, or hong nam (water room). We had to walk to it, like an outhouse, and it was made entirely of cinder blocks.
There was no shower curtain, let alone a shower, all I saw was a large tub and a small bucket or pail and a squat toilet. Y-i-k-e-s. I remember when my mom first led me to it, I had the worst teenage attitude, “What the hell is this???” Even though it was boiling scalding hot, I still expected to step into a hot or warm shower. I still expected to see something familiar, like in the hotels we stayed at.
I was embarrassed to stand in the tub and pour the water over me using a pail or cup or whatever the dang thing was. I’m sure my mom wanted to kill me every single goddamn day we were on our 52 vacation during the summer of 1989. And now I live here!
When we returned home, I remember standing in the steamy wonderful shower, thinking, “Ahhhh. I am so grateful for this hot shower.” That was an important moment because I was waking up to how lucky I truly was. It was great that adults were trying to tell me, it was another thing for me to experience it.
That holiday was life changing because I saw people without limbs begging on the streets, I saw how other people lived, I was engulfed by a gang of children holding their hands out for money, and I began to believe all those crazy stories my mom told me about her family growing up poor. I was old enough to understand but still very much a child.
Here’s to remembering to be grateful. What follows are this week’s Gratitude Pic. Thank you Thailand.