I flew into Chiang Mai close to midnight. The city was dark as a co-worker drove me to the house.
As we passed buildings and navigated the city streets, everything felt vaguely familiar. I recognized shops and remembered different landmarks, but couldn’t quite place them geographically. Struggling to conjure an image of the city’s grid, I held miniature puzzle pieces in my hand with little recollection of the picture on the box.
We arrived at my new house in fifteen minutes. My co-worker handed me the keys to open the gate and we labored together with my bags, weighed down by books and trinkets I brought to help create a sense of home.
Tired from the long weekend journey, I briefly surveyed my new residence and fell quickly onto the mattress held by a small teak frame. Sleep enveloped me immediately.
Morning came just as quickly though, as my internal clock would not allow me to sleep past 4:00am. At five, I gave up and emerged from my room.
My housemate and another coworker is on summer holiday and away for the next six weeks. The house, quiet from emptiness, felt much like that of the city: familiar in its Thai-style, but not yet intimately known.
Yet. That is the pertinent adverb. For just as everything here feels simultaneously familiar and new, it also feels brimming with the knowing that is to come.
I cannot yet place my home in relation to everywhere I need to go. My walls aren’t yet adorned with decor. Along with the void in these statements, I feel the promise for change that they hold.
Though I’m not one for puzzles myself, I imagine that this is part of their appeal. They teach us, or at least remind us, to trust the process. To place piece by piece, knowing that something larger will emerge. To test and experiement and get things wrong. To embrace the blank spaces that aren’t yet filled.
Leaving my house that first morning, I had no idea where in the city I was situated. Cycling aimlessly and with great direction, I began creating the border of an image.
I’ve not yet filled it in. Gathering piece after piece, I slowly create a mental map of the city and my life within it. And I remind myself: yet.