In 2006, Erin and I went to Thailand for the second time. We visited the Northern part of the country with Skip. We rode an elephant, we stayed at the nicest hotel I have ever seen. Then we took a trip to a place called Pai (pronounced By, I am told). We chose Pai because the son of one of Skip's friend's lived there. He played in a band at a club called the Bee Bop. The town was full of young people... lots of Europeans and Israelis. Daniel, Skip's friend's son, lived in a hut, with no air conditioning, and maybe no running water. There may or may not have been electricity. This was an American guy, from a nice family, college educated, and, as best as I can tell, not on the run from anything. He lived there, in the manner I have just described, by choice. I admired him. Not enough to rent the hut next door, but still, I knew that if and when he chose to move back to the States, the comforts of modern western society would feel like... I can't even think of an appropriate metaphor. It reminded me of an experience I had years before, when I was in college (my experience seems weak in comparison, but this was where I learned that feeling). I took a camping trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the spring (1999, I think). It was just one night, but that was enough. I have never liked camping. I have several camping memories from childhood, none of them great (some of them funny, though, like a cub scout trip with my big brother, which ended with both of us very sick with the flu). Anyway, so this trip as a college student, sounded good in theory, but in practice came off badly. Most of the people on the trip were not really my crowd. They were very nice people, but they did not drink, smoke, and swear, which were my three favorite past times at that time in my life, and the only things that I thought make camping a worthwhile endeavor. So it was decided that rather than just go to a campground where we could park our cars and set up our tents, we would hike someplace, with all of our gear, and there was a lot of it for one night of sleeping in the woods, and then hike back out the next day. I had voted for the campground idea. The location that they decided on was up a very steep path, off of a very narrow road, with no sign indicating what the path led to. We had very vague directions. About a half hour or 45 minutes into the hike, it started raining. We walked a ways further, and decided that the rain was probably not going to stop, and we were probably not going to make it to the top of the mountain to the clearing and scenic view that we thought we were heading to (though I still do not know to this day if we were even on the correct trail for said clearing and scenic panorama). We found a rocky clearing, pitched our tents, and tried to start a fire (remember, it was raining). We had brought a bunch of food thinking that we would merrily warm it over a crackling fire. No fire, and not much food that could be eaten uncooked. I went to bed that night having eaten only a bowl of half cooked ramen noodles. It poured rain all night. The tent that I was sleeping in had been in someone's basement for decades, and began leaking almost immediately upon entering it that night. I woke up freezing cold and soaking wet before sunrise the next morning. We packed up, and headed off that mountain. The group stopped at the first restaurant we could find, a McDonalds, and had breakfast. It was the best meal of my life. One night of discomfort and depravation made that Egg McMuffin taste better than anything else I have eaten in my entire life (and this is only mild hyperbole). I think I went back to the counter twice for more hash browns.
We got our furniture a few days ago. Sleeping in our own bed after a month on an air mattress was kind of like that.