About a week ago, Eli & I went to an art gallery opening in the Sathorn district of Bangkok at a spot fittingly named Sathorn 11 Art Space. The exhibition that will run until mid March, L'Amour, is a display of how several different Thai artists portrayed their concept of "love". In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to share the story of Eliana & I.
"Karma guides life. Sense guides action" -Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul
Nine and a half years ago I moved into my college dorm room at Temple University in Philadelphia. My parents had left and the new world around me was starting to sink in. I felt it like a tap on the shoulder telling me to turn around, and when I did, I saw her. It probably takes all of a second to walk past someones door way, but in that second my entire life was flipped on its head. I was never the "let's go get 'em" type in high school when it came to women. Im pretty sure up until that point every girlfriend I had initiated the process. But this time was different, because I knew it was the girl I had been dreaming about for years. I looked at my roommate Kyle, told him to get it together because I needed a wingman. My only plan was to just walk into her suite and talk to her. I'm positive that "who is this guy just barging into my room" was the only thing on her mind, but I had to find out who she was.
"To meet your lover is part of destiny, it derived from past lives cooperative merit, love destiny is never a coincident." -Suwat Saenkattiyarat
Our first date, or outing rather because Eli still doesn't consider it a date, was a few days later. I wanted to go explore Center City and asked her if she wanted to join me. That was the first time we got lost together. We ended up at Cosi and shared one of their campfire s'more desserts where you roast the s'mores yourself. How she doesn't consider walking at night through bright light, big city parks and eating s'mores over an open flame a date is still beyond me. The first night we went out together it felt like I'd known this girl forever, like her smile had already been etched in my memory and I was just looking for a match to the mold. I was doing my best to understand what I was feeling, but explaining that to my current girlfriend was another story. Luckily, she dumped me a few weeks later, so the universe took care of that one for me.
"Love is about irrational emotion." -Dinhin Rakpong-Asoke
We spent just about every hour we weren't in classes together. I learned about where she was from and how she grew up. Both being only children, we had a lot of really odd similarities that I think an only child would understand. We were so different, and from such different backgrounds, but it actually felt like I had found the part of myself that I hadn't realized was missing until we met. She was emotional, irrational, scary even. I'm the most indifferent person I know and she felt something about everything. I could help her to not care so much about all the little things that stressed her and she added a color to my world that I hadn't seen before. It was perfect, but we were young and there was so much growing up to do.
"The frailty of the tree of Love required intensive labor of love and care despite all obstacles, problems, or heavy burden. As long as it is being fed with love and care, the tree will not wither or die." -Prateep Kochabua
Over the next 8 years we would make every mistake and go down every road I think a couple could. We would have days when the laughing seemed endless, and we would have nights where our fights seemed unreconcilable. I knew this was the one for me, but my mind was so set on the destination that the journey seemed like a hassle. I just wanted us to get there, to that point where we were always on the same page. One day, circa 2009 maybe, I realized that there was no destination. We were two people spinning through an endless void of people and places together, and the only thing holding us together was our decision for it to be so. The choice to grow up with someone, experience their mistakes and triumphs first hand, is not an easy one. Along the way we saw couples break and move on for a lot less than some of the things we put ourselves through. People will always make mistakes or do something that offends you or your ego because people are not perfect, even if the pedestal you put them on suggests otherwise. But if someone was going to stand by me through all the joy and pain, I wanted it to be her.
"I dreamt about a state of mind full of love, wandering into the land of happiness for each other." -Chumpol Taksapornchai
Now we are backpacking our way through southeast Asia and if there's anything that I've learned about love over the past 9 years it's that it takes work. There is a difference in admiring a sculpture and the grueling hours it took to sculpt it. True love is in the sculpting. Love takes a level of patience and understanding that you can only gain through time and experience. For us, there have been many forks in the road where we could've parted ways, but instead, we held hands and decided to go straight. I will always stand by her and every laugh and tear we will share together.