I believe that I am at my best when the sun moves through the sky from morning until dusk and even a short time after.
Before that, the uncertainty of what the day may hold brings me coffee getting cold and sleep in my eyes. I resist life. Birds can call out to me in lilting melody only for me to perceive it as a raucous and invasive taunting. Before the sun has filled the window sill, this could be a day I die or hurt someone or produce nothing of value and worth.
I am anxious for the sun to enter my life and restless with the inability to cause anything. Without a result on record for the day until this minute, how am I to gauge and measure what the beating of my heart has been meant for?
Should I take some solid object and crash it into another? I imagine a gigantic oriental gong, as big as a car and shining golden in the morning shadows. I would lift a massive mallet, swing back with it, threatening the dislocation of my shoulder, and launch it into the meat of the metal, off-center. The impact would cause my teeth to clatter and my arms to bounce back, almost losing my grip on the mallet.
But the resulting kinetic shock and swell in the massive tam-tam would consume the air surrounding me and send a signal to my ears and Nature to get the hell out of the way because the sun is coming, rays of it streaking in onto the hanging brass disc still returning from its trajectory outward.
I have stood, incoherent except for this vision and just long enough for the sun to finally seep into our small living room above the mighty Chaophraya River, eight stories down and at the eastern back of our building here in the Khlong San river district of Bangkok.
The sun’s rays of light are life-giving to me. That’s what I’ve chosen to believe and it’s what I keep telling myself until I now both live by it and am bound to it.
Now I can react to my wife with civility and love and move toward the plans that I purported to construct during my time before sundown yesterday. Am I a reverse Dracula? A Bizarro Vampire that can only thrive during daylight, retreating to my mental coffin as night descends? How silly I’ve become.
It’s all a fantasy and only my perception in these moments so far today.
Normally, I’m a go-getter and switched “ON” upon waking. And that’s what’s actually annoying to my good wife. Because she’s the one with Morning Reticence Syndrome.
As the early morning Saphan-Taksin Ferry leaves the pier with its gray-blue diesel smoke filling the air, two things are on my mind. One is that I love being on the water. It doesn’t matter that the Mighty Chaophraya is dirty and churning from the dozens and dozens of boats that travel the few Bangkok-dividing miles.
The tugs leading barge caravans carrying sand and rice up and down the river to the many high-rise construction sites and markets, respectively, are quickly passed by the open and ornate boutique-style passenger boats comporting the wealthy guests of luxury hotels and condominiums.
The shore-to-shore ferries like the one I’m on must defer to the hotel and dinner cruise boats, angling to break their wakes at forty-five to ninety-degree angles to avoid capsizing during the river rush hours. We’re taking commuters across the river to the more modern and built-up “downtown” of the city.
I’m headed to find a thirty-Baht breakfast of rice, pork, and fried egg. Thirty Baht is the equivalent of about ninety-five cents, USD.
That it’s worth it to spend five Baht each way on the ferry in addition to the kra-pow breakfast speaks to the necessity of being spendthrift as my wife and I try to manage to live on just her salary. That I later break our agreement and spontaneously spend another forty Baht on the Bangkok Transit System train to venture further into the city and further away from the water will become the catalyst for the anvil-drop into calamity to follow.
But for now, being seated on the ferry at almost water-level, I can imagine I am in the water. The waves and wakes of other boats come right up to me. I could touch a seal or large bullhead if it surfaced next to where I am in the wide, flat-bottomed water bus. Unmoored bright green water lilies, the kelp of the Chaophraya, come alongside the boat and give a freshness to the brown-gray color of the water.
The rooster tail plumes of spray trailing extended propeller shafts of the longtail boats, their massive v-eight car motors roaring like the Daytona Speedway, sparkle with silver effervescence in the morning air for us. I want to know about these Evel Knievels, these NASCAR stock car drivers of the water.
I watch as one driver puts to bear all of his dark-muscled weight onto the steering shaft, straining to get the multi-colored rocket to back up toward another dock. I imagine these guys are really no different than someone like Big Daddy Don Garlits, strapped in just ahead of a 1000 horsepower, nitro-burning, slingshot dragster. Only these river racers do it with no helmet, no flame-proof suit and mask – just a huge raw engine mounted behind them, a pole in their hands to steer and a longer, propeller-ended pole in the water, hurtling along the choppy artery out of the Gulf of Thailand.
As he gets his craft turned, sunlight floods into the boat and the sweat glistens along his knotted forearms and face turned outward, illuminated like a gladiator surveying the crowd in a hot and dusty arena, looking for a patron. But I think I might just tend to romanticize these taciturn Thai river men a bit.
The Second Thing on my mind as the ferry chugs across the waterway is a desire to see the area of Bangkok where all of the prostitution goes on.
That’s a shocking admonition…
Continued in The Sun Worshipper, Part 2
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