Logically, after you have a “first” then you have a “second” and a “third” and a “fourth” and a “fifth.” And obviously, I have had my share of these. The days have begun to blur together in a whirl of tiny children, yoga classes, and morning, afternoon, and night markets. Everything has become slightly more familiar. I have found my mango and sticky rice stand (very important), a yoga studio, and the best pad thai food cart. While teaching is still a struggle, it has gotten a little easier. I have become more confident in front of my classroom. My lessons plans have become guidelines rather than concrete plans and activities I plan now take a proper amount of time, rather than five minutes. I know all of the student’s names and now have a mountain of grading to do. Even so, by the end of the school day, I hardly want to look at yet another “Body Parts” worksheet and sometimes I think if I hear another high-pitched “Teacher, Teacher” I may go crazy, but I’ve learned to take a deep breath, plug in my headphones, and eat my grumpiness away.

This past weekend, I went to Bangkok with one of my co-fellows, Aly. I got my first Thai massage. While I have gotten a few massages in my life, a traditional Thai massage was a whole different experience. She put my body in places that I wasn’t sure it could go and continued to pull and push until my body gave way. The masseurs twisted my back until I was cut in half with very loud and potentially concerning cracks sounding as my body was shifted.

In my yoga teacher training, I learned that twists detoxify your body, but as these toxins are released, a person can become emotional. When I stopped concentrating on the pain going through my body, my mind began to wander. Am I really qualified to be teaching 250 second and third graders English? Will I survive nine months? (Of course, I do tend towards the dramatic). After being untwisted, I could sit a little straighter and bend backwards a little farther, but how long would this adjustment last? How much work would it take to maintain my new flexibility?

And so, now I am in a period of adjustment. I am being pulled towards my past and pushed towards my present. I am working towards finding a balance between living here in Nan and being homesick for my comfort with my family. I miss my friends, but I am making new ones. I have entered an entirely different community from my own, complete with a large language barrier that I am just discovering how to overcome. Smiles and nods go a long way, but I hope to learn enough Thai to at least have simple conversations to accompany the friendly eyes and open hearts.

So as I was getting twisted and turned, pushed and pulled, my body resisted her manipulations until it could take no more and finally relaxed into my masseur’s able hands.

And I can definitely say that the next day after my massage, I was sufficiently sore. But what is a life if you are not a little sore after?


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