“wealth: The eternal flow of all that’s good in life…”
*Below is the fourth episode in a series of real life events experienced by the author. The only deviations from the truth may be the names of people and places.
Mutually celebrate the triumphs, my friends. And surprise at the benevolence of the all-knowing, Original Substance (God, the Universe, the One, etc.).
In “Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (1), (2), and (3)”, I went by heartbreak, worked past the misery, completed a Grief Letter, enjoyed a uncompletely recovery, relapsed, and then had an amazing encounter with a exceptional woman named Songsana (a beautiful Asian News Reporter).
The uncanny resemblance between Songsana and the main female character in the book “My Friend Yu – The wealth Mentor” – a book I wrote over six months PRIOR to meeting Songsana – is a delightful mystery to me.
Luck? Maybe. Fate? Probably (hopefully).
– THE SEARCH, THE DESPAIR –
It was the day after the High School Sports event.
Meeting Songsana yesterday was exactly what I needed to cure my relapse into post-breakup depression.
But it was a bitter/sweet experience.
I was nevertheless angry (at myself). I could kick myself for leaving her at the Stadium without exchanging contact information.
I couldn’t call her. And I didn’t know where she and her News Team were staying in Thailand. I couldn’t already call her after she returned back to her home country (Vietnam).
I decided to search the internet for some way, any way to contact her.
All day – in between classes – at work, I Googled every permutation of her name that I could think of; her country’s news stations, the parent German News Company that owned her news show; plus the “Information” and “Yellow Pages” of Vietnam. Zilch, nada – nothing.
All attempts at finding Songsana on the net proved futile.
Discouraged, I couldn’t think of any other way to find her and was forced to give up the search.
“This will be THE BIGGEST ONE THAT GOT AWAY!” I thought.
I was resigned to my fate.
And sullen, I accepted the situation: There’s no way to find Songsana and I will probably never see her again.
That night, I did an additional long treadmill run and weight workout. It helped me deal with my frustration and sadness over the “Search for Songsana debacle”…
– THE HAND –
Whenever I think it’s hopeless, the Universe always steps in. The impossible becomes possible, despair turns into hope, and love shines by the clouds. And with its benevolent, gentle hand I’m nudged back on course towards my destiny, my own personal path.
Carl “J.C.” Pantejo (Dec 2007)
…After exercising to pre-exhaustion and rehydrating with copious amounts of beer, I managed to collapse into a semi-coma, sleeping well into the morning.
Luckily, I had enough forethought to set my clock, T.V., and mobile phone alarms before my only drinking session began last night. After letting the alarms sound off for a good five minutes, I dragged myself out of bed, gulped down two cups of java, showered, shaved, dressed, hopped on my motorcycle, and made it to work with 3 minutes to spare.
Although I didn’t have a bad hangover, I nevertheless felt a little ineffective and wobbly – like an alien had sucked the life force out of me.
And I was starving.
Most of my colleagues were already teaching, but today I had the first period off – perfect for eating a slow, relaxing breakfast. Slogging down to the school cafeteria, I bought a typical Thai breakfast (spicy, fried hamburger, peppers, string beans, eggs, and rice).
I slipped into the teachers’ lounge/dining room. It was already complete of Thai teachers chatting away at each other, lazily enjoying their bowls of soup, rice, and plates of vegetables and fruit. They were used to me and acknowledged me with a respectful “Wai” (hands together, prayer like, and touching the thumbs to the chin) or simply nodded. Then they went back to their chatter.
– THE MIRACLES CONTINUE –
I don’t like eating alone, so I scanned the dining area to see if any of my friends had a class canceled and decided to eat breakfast.
Then, at the other end of the dining room, I saw the back of someone new. When she turned and spoke to the person sitting next to her, I saw the profile of her confront. I blinked twice and did a “Double Take.”
I must be hallucinating!
Like a zombie with tunnel vision, I slowly rose from my chair and walked unobtrusively towards the “apparition.”
“Songsana? Is that you?” I said tentatively.
“J.C.! There you are! I was here at your school yesterday, but I couldn’t find you. We’re (the News Crew) taking some footage of Takraw (the popular “volleyball-by-foot” sport of Asia) practice,” she said, with her trademark, golden smile and extended hand.
With a shocked look (and gaping mouth), I shook her hand with both of mine – all the while barely believing that she was here!
Stuttering like one of my High School students, I said, “I didn’t give you my number at the Sports Stadium. I…uh…searched the net all day yesterday for some way to contact you, but nothing came up. I tried every keyword I could think of. But…I…umm…anyway, I’m so happy to see you! I thought that I’d never…well…I gave up on…Oh hell, can I have your e-mail or phone number?”
“Sure. Here’s my business card,” she said.
Glancing at it, I could see her work and phone numbers, her e-mail address, and her company’s logo.
“This is my second chance. I’m not losing this!”
Smiling, I slipped her card into my shirt pocket, pressed it hard against my heart, and winked at Songsana.
She giggled and smiled.
“Thanks Songsana. I’d love to sit down and talk, but I have to go teach now. Maybe we can hook up before the workday’s over? If not, I’ll call or e-mail you real soon, okay?” I said, grinning from ear-to-ear. (I know my confront must’ve been flushed.)
“Jeez! I’m feeling like a 17 year old kid again!” I thought.
“Okay. See ya,” she said, cheerfully.
It wasn’t until then that I realized that everyone in the room – Thai teachers and Camera Crew alike – had stopped eating and talking to observe the reunion between Songsana and me. When we ended our conversation the whole dining room was silent, with all eyes on us. The look of surprise/confusion was painted on all of their faces.
I wasn’t embarrassed at all. To me, this second, unplanned meeting was a blatant sign from the Universe. I truly believed that, for some reason, Songsana and I were supposed to cross paths (and not lose touch with each other)…
– MURPHY’S LAW –
“Murphy’s Law: What CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong!”
…I went about my normal teaching day on Cloud 9. All my students noticed how happy I was. Some of the more playful (and insightful) ones were identify on, hitting the nail on the head with comments like “Oooo-ooh, teacher has a new girlfriend.”
Well aware of my recent “find/loss/find” experience, all my friends chided me, saying that I always had all the luck – especially with love and women.
Unfortunately, Songsana and I had complete schedules. We smiled and waved to each other as I went from class to class and she went from interview to interview. We both were so busy that more time together today would probably be impossible.
But that was okay. I planned to call her as soon as I got home. Then we could talk (or meet) privately.
After a busy workday and a quick workout, I found myself at home rifling by my gym bag for the shirt with Songsana’s business card. Finding it, I placed it on my computer desk. As a backup, I wanted to go into the data into my laptop. While it was booting up, I went to the fridge and grabbed a beer. I returned to the laptop and entered the business card’s information.
Entering the data, I realized that all the contact numbers were international phone numbers – no local, Thailand numbers.
“No worries. I’ll just e-mail her,” I thought.
I wrote a nice “Hello, How are you? Here’s my phone number” e-mail and pressed the send meaningful. Thinking all was well, I sat back and continued to drink my beer. My mind was filled with hundreds of questions for her.
Then it happened.
A “Warning: Mail Delivery Failure” message appeared on my screen. I pulled up the recently sent e-mail, rechecked and retyped Songsana’s e-mail address and sent it again – same, same: “Warning: Mail Delivery Failure.” I logged onto an alternate e-mail service and tried again.
FOR PETE’S SAKE! I’VE LOST HER AGAIN! PROBABLY FOR GOOD THIS TIME!
Now I was really angry. Instead of rushing off to class this morning, why didn’t I at the minimum scribble my number on a napkin for Songsana? Why didn’t I give her my number during our three “excursion-by’s” in the hallway today?
I called all the numbers on the business card.
No dice. Most of the numbers were not answered – including Songsana’s home number. There was one line answered, but the person on the other end spoke no English (and I don’t speak Vietnamese).
This REALLY SUCKS!
Feeling forlorn, I allowed negativity to set in. Maybe I was wrong? Maybe we WEREN’T meant to get to know each other afterall? Maybe this Finding-Losing-Finding, then Losing again game was the Universe’s sick idea of a joke?
Since I didn’t know when and where Songsana would be during the rest of her assignment in Thailand, my only recourse was to wait until she returned home (around Christmas, five weeks away) and try to reach her using the international home phone number on the business card.
“Hell, if that doesn’t work, I’ll just show up in her city on my next long weekend and ask around for her!”
And with that thought, I accepted that I’d lost Songsana AGAIN!
– LONGSHOT –
It had been a few days since my phone and e-mail failures. I was busy getting ready to go teach my Adult English class held on Sunday afternoons at a local Language Institute.
Then my mobile phone rang. It was my friend Ed (another foreign English teacher at the High School). Ed was a close friend. He knew the whole Found/Lost etc. story.
“Hey J.C. How are you? Listen, I might be wrong, but I heard from one of our Thai teachers that there’s a Takraw match between our school and a Vietnamese school sometime this weekend. I’m not sure if it was yesterday or today. And I don’t know the time it’s supposed to happen either. Anyway, I thought you’d like to know,” Ed said – trying to instill some kind of hope.
“Thanks a lot buddy. I’ll check it out on the way to my Sunday job,” I said (politely, but with not much enthusiasm).
In Thailand schools, especially Government schools, rumored- and already “hard scheduled” – events rarely materialized as planned. All things at the school seemed to proceed according to the whim of the school’s Principal and executive staff. Us “grunts” (the teachers) were ordinarily left in the dark until the last second.
Oh, what the hell. I guess it couldn’t hurt to leave 20 minutes early and pass by the school – just in case.
– MIRACLES PART II –
Driving up to the school, I didn’t see much fanfare going on. I parked my motorcycle and walked to the sports building.
Outside was no evidence of any eminent, big sports match.
The parking lot wasn’t complete. I could hear no cheering from the top floor basketball/badminton/Takraw courts. No families and friends of players were loitering around the nearby food stalls.
closest outside the building was a booth for government voting registration. Inside, on the first floor, was a very vocal PTA meeting (as usual, there was a heated argue going on between a teacher and a parent).
With no elevators in this five-story building, I was wondering if the climb to the top floor was worth it.
I decided that since I’d come this far, I should at the minimum make doubly sure that: 1) There really is no Takraw match; and 2) Songsana and the Camera Crew were long gone (probably covering another high-profile event).
On the way up the stairs, I saw some of my students. I tried to ask them if there was any sports event today, but their rudimentary English skills (and my lame Thai language skills) prevented any meaningful communication between us.
Reaching the fourth floor, I was beginning to think that I was wasting my time.
I stomped up the last flight of stairs and was met by another three students.
They all gave me a respectful Wai and one of them said, “Good morning teacher. Going to watch the Takraw match today?”
“No, I have to teach at another place soon. But is the International News Crew from Vietnam here today?” I asked.
“Mai Roo (I don’t know),” they said (in unison).
Walking into the gymnasium, I saw a associate of Physical Education teachers assembling the Takraw nets.
“When is the game?” I asked.
“Bai nueng (1:00PM). Gin kao (Did you eat/Have you eaten?).”
“Mai chai (no). Tang gnarm (working/Going to work),” I said.
– MIRACLE NUMBER THREE: ONE MORE TIME –
Songsana walked in from the fifth storey balcony. The sunlight behind her produced a halo effect, making her appear more angelic than normal.
Trying not to sound desperate (and failing miserably), I said, “Songsana! Thank God, you’re here. I couldn’t send any e-mail messages to the address on your business card. And I don’t have a local phone number for you. HERE’S MINE!” Then I quickly scribbled my phone number and e-mail address on the back of an old 7-11 receipt from the bottom of my gym bag and handed it to her.
“Sorry. Sometimes the business e-mail address gets screwed up – too much SPAM, I guess. Anyway, thanks for your number. Are you staying to watch the game? We’re shooting the last scenes for our documentary today,” she said, trying to conceal her excitement about seeing me again – and failing miserably too. The smile was genuine and beautiful.
Regaining a little of my composure back, I said, “No. I’m sorry. I have to go to my weekend teaching job now. Please, please don’t lose my number and e-mail address!”
Then I hurried off to the Adult English class.
I arrived at the Language Institute a little late, but it didn’t matter. I had found Songsana – AGAIN.
– HAPPY ENDINGS – CAN’T COUNT THE MIRACLES –
During a break in the Adult English class, I looked at my mobile phone.
There was one message: “Hi J.C. It’s me Songsana. This is my local number while I’m in Thailand. It was great to see you again today. Sorry we didn’t have time to talk. Here’s my personal e-mail address…”
(EPILOGUE: I can’t count the miracles. I lost and found Songsana several times. But the Universe wouldn’t allow me to lose her forever; nudging me back towards her whenever I strayed off course.
This story has a happy ending. She is busy with her T.V. and News career and I am busy fulfilling my teaching contract. To this day, Songsana and I text, e-mail, and call each other on a daily basis. We plan on getting together very, very soon…)