I Might Not Remember Your Name

We’ve been trying to piece our different recollections of our last Bangkok trip into one seamless story but after 20 years the details are a little hazy. We keep having conversations that sound eerily familiar to how I remember G’s parents talking about old friends from a different time and a different place.

“Who was that guy that we went to see? He was in an apartment, we went there for dinner…or did we meet him there and then go out for dinner?” I ask G while we drink our beers looking out the window at the evening skyline of Bangkok.

“Andrew” he says, predicting my next question “I worked with him, remember I stayed with him after we got married before you joined me in Perth”.

My mind rewinds like an old cassette deck, I see my Dad, our wedding, I fast forward to a few weeks later the last lunch before he and Mum took me to the airport. I cried from Adelaide to Perth, four hours. I knew that it was the beginning of a new life. I think of my Dad’s wedding speech knowing that we were moving to the other side of the country “darling in the words of Dorothea Mackellor there’s going to be a lot of wide brown land between us” his voice cracked with emotion, people audibly sighed. That was when plane rides for us were domestic, within the county no passport required we drove home for Christmas. A year later G and I moved to Jakarta, we were heading towards twenty years of new passports, new countries and goodbyes.

G’s been working this week while I’ve been devouring the streets of Bangkok. And when I say devouring I mean every aspect of travel. I’ve let out squeals of delight when I’ve managed to navigate the hotel to the skytrain to the subway to the skywalk to the suggestion of a great place to eat. And eat I have. I’ve taken tuk tuks to get a coconut ice cream, I’ve walked for twenty minutes in the sun to find a Japanese cheesecake. I know I know I’m in Thailand but this cheesecake came with a strong recommendation and it was worth every step. I’ve sniffed my way through the flower markets and bartered while giggling and shaking my head. I’ve been refreshed, rejuvenated by the simple pleasure of landing somewhere foreign.

Twenty years ago I did this trip with a one year old and the challenges were entirely different – keeping her happy and hydrated while I made my way around without google maps or a smartphone. My adventures were curbed by the fear of a relatively new parent *what if I break her* a voice in my head played on repeat.

That’s the weird thing about parenting; it’s an exercise in confidence. You begin with none and then slowly gain it year by year, child by child. And just when you begin to feel like you’ve got a handle on things your children turn into teenagers and begin to borrow a little bit of your confidence to use for themselves.

“Mum, I reckon you’ve got early dementia you can’t ever remember anyone’s name” she tells me as I stumble over the details (again). I want to remind her that I’ve got over 50 years worth of names in my brain and four children who have collectively lived in seven different countries. And to be honest Georgia and Georgina are two very freaking similar names and you all seem to know more than one of them?! I don’t say that though, because experience has taught me to choose my battles, in the words of a famous group of penguins smile and wave boys smile and wave.

Maybe I have got early dementia? The seed has been planted. A chink in the confidence armour. They happen daily now. Maybe I should think about fillers for my face? Chink. Why does it feel like everyone else is doing it? Overnight I’ve gone from carefree maintenance to a daily need to moisturise. My hair is yet to go grey it’s a gift from my father. To be fair I need to tell you that English is the second language of the girl at the hairdressers who asked me how old I was and then shrieked to her co-worker “Oh lah, this lady is really really old and look how dark her hair is”. This lady is really really old.

No she’s not. I need to keep reminding myself. No she’s not. Hang on, that’s not right. So what if she is? Chink, I straighten out the armour, grab my shield and get ready to go again.

I stand in front of the mirror at the gym. I’m holding weights while I squat. I feel strong, much stronger than I did ten years ago. I’m on the 22nd floor of a beautiful hotel and the view behind me is spectacular. Life is good. I’m planning my day in my head with each squat: back to the sky train, then the subway, the floating markets, the silk house, the authors lounge, don’t forget the silver must go and see the silver. I am without restraint, no strollers, no sterilized bottles, no need to throw in a water park or a swing set along the way to keep everyone happy. I will do with my day as I want and maybe I won’t remember everyone’s name. They’ll forgive me, I’m old.

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