The night before I left Siem Reap, I went to bed early so I could watch the World Cup game at 3am. I made it to the end of the regular game time, but when the US was clearly losing I decided to just let myself get a little extra sleep.
I woke up a few hours later, packed my things, and went downstairs to check with Su about my ride. I found him asleep on the couch. He had forgotten to arrange a tuk tuk for me, so instead I got a ride on the back of his motorcycle. It was my first time riding a motorcycle without a helmet and not the most comfortable experience but it felt good to ride on two wheels again.
There was no direct flight to Chiang Mai so I had a five hour layover in Bangkok. I was hoping I could find a nice comfy cafe and chill out but the dining options were abysmal, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King. I ended up at a pretty nasty coffee shop, but they did offer WiFi for customers so I settled in the cafeteria-like space for a few hours.
I was doing little more than entertaining myself on Reddit when a Facebook update appeared that shook me up badly. A friend back home in Seattle had passed away suddenly. At first I hoped that it might be a twisted joke, but I couldn’t believe that of the friend who announced the news. I started checking the Facebook pages of every mutual friend, and found many vague updates that now had more serious meaning.
I sat there in the restaurant and just let the tears fall silently. It felt very lonely to process on my own, and I briefly contemplated flying back to Seattle for the wake. I hadn’t seen this friend in a year, and for the year before that he had held some resentment towards, blaming me for some changes in his life. I was torn between feeling bad for not visiting him my last two trips out, and relief that we had the opportunity to patch up our friendship before this happened.
And then there was the gift he had given me, his cast iron pan. It was a very meaningfully bestowed gift, yet I had succumbed to exhaustion from moving and let my roommate keep it. I knew that I had to get it back, and emailed her the request.
It was very late in Seattle by then, and the action on Facebook had dwindled. I cleaned up a bit and went to the gate to board. I had picked an aisle seat because I like to hydrate while flying, but after waiting patiently for my row-mates I realized that there would not be any. This was a perfect situation because I love sitting by the window and watching the ground fall away.
As the plane taxied down the runway I sat with my gaze fixed on the skyline and then I saw it– a rainbow. I generally try not to attribute happenstance with meaning, but it was impossible not to feel touched. I decided to take it as a sign that if there is a higher power, they are benevolent enough to care more about providing comfort than what or whom we believe in.