We had lunch at a beach that was hiding just beyond the next bend of rock. They served us stir fried vegetables and chicken with rice in little steel containers. Rob and I hadn’t brought any towels to lay on, so we sat down on some rocks in the shade.
The beach was like a postcard of what Thailand should be. The sand was white and so fine that when I went into the water it turned into a mush between my toes. The water was turquoise and full of neon bright yellow and blue fish. I tried bouldering a bit in the shallow part of the water, but the start was a straight overhang and I couldn’t go even one move. One of the Thai guides came over and showed me how to do it. He made it through two moves and then fell with a splash.
Our guides were three young Thai men. We didn’t really need three guys to man a boat and a kayak, but they took turns kayaking us to the ladders, lying in a hammock that was strung up on the boat, lying out in the sun on the bow, and climbing themselves.
They had a sweet fucking job and they knew it.
As we got ready to head back, a guy wearing a spectacular blue LA cap offered Rob a hit of his joint. He turned it down, but I leapt over the seats at the offer. He told me, “just once, okay.”
I almost coughed on the harshness of that first drag, but I didn’t. I smoked that joint like a pro–dragging in, holding in, taking a bit more, hold, then exhale. The smoke was thick and strong and fucking delicious. The guy with the LA cap kept sharing the joint with me, passing it between me and his friend standing on the bow of the boat, until it was gone.
It had been over four months since the last time I had gotten high. Whenever I get high, I fall into my body. As it came on I noticed how much tension was piled up in my shoulders. I stretched and wondered how in the world I had gone so damn long without stretching. The guy with the blue cap pointed to the hammock rolled up and tucked into the metal bars on which the canvas covering of the boat was stretched. He helped me pull it down and, elated, I clambered in and swayed back and forth with the movement of the boat ripping through the water.
“Well, look at that. You’re living the life now.”
I smiled at Rob and asked him for some water.
He took out the camera and tried to take a picture of me.
“Just look normal.”
He took a picture and made a face at the few screen.
“Don’t keep it if I look weird.”
“You look fine.”
I have that picture now. I look terrible and weird.
I looked out at that fucking incredible sapphire water and felt more relaxed in that moment than I had at any time since leaving Simahaphot. My undercurrent of anxiety was gone. I saw that moment for what it really was—it was everything I could possibly want. And it seemed like this whole time up until that moment I had been looking desperately for something that would make me happy rather than just allowing myself to be happy.
“Are you high?”
I looked at Rob. I had my hand on his knee to keep myself from swaying to much. He had his hand on top of mine.
“Yeah. Like really.”
“You must be. You haven’t said a word in the past five minutes. That must be a new record. I had to look over just to make sure you were still there.”
I didn’t laugh, but I had a stupid grin on my face a so wide it hurt my cheek muscles.
“Dear God, I should have got that weed off of that Thai girl back in Bangkok. I could have had weeks of silence.”
I was laughing now.
“I should have called her sister up and said, ‘I’m not leaving until you bring me that goddamn weed.’”
“You went through all that trouble too.”
“I know! Got hit with a fucking piece of wood.”
“With a piece of wood!”
“I should have stayed another day and got that damn weed.”
“Did you even have anything to do the next day?”
“I don’t think so! I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t think I did.”
“I don’t think you did either.”
He took my hand and held it.
“Is that East Railey over there.” He pointed to a spit of beach in the distance that he knew full well was not East Railey.
I grinned at him and refused to say anything.
“Oh, that must be South Railey then. Yep, I bet that’s South Railey.”
The Austrian woman sitting beside him turned around. “I think that West Railey.”
I burst out laughing.
“Oh, it is. Thanks. I wonder where North Railey is then.”
“I don’t think there is a North Railey.”
Rob winked at me and she turned away confused.
“Actually,” I said. “It’s Phra Ram beach.”
I may have been fucking high, but I still knew my geography.