Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Then and Now 33 - Tim and Jessie

Then and Now 33 - Tim and Jessie
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

Tim and Jessie were a married couple that I met online for tutoring, and were the first people that wanted to learn English from me while paying me for my time. I was a bit nervous going to talk with them at first, because while I had tutored before, this time, I needed the money to feed myself. I was planning all kinds of topics to bring up and some grammar points, but I wasn't sure if they would be satisifed with my lesson.

We met at a train station a mile or two east of the hostel. It was a big hub of activity for me while I lived at the hostel, where I met at least a dozen friends and tutor students before we found a place to adventure or talk. Beneath the skywalk of the train station, I met the two. Tim was a man in his thirties with glasses and a wide smile, and had a direct, but friendly, character. Jessie was his wife, also in her thirties, and was quieter, but very friendly and attentive. We walked back towards the hostel until we came to a coffee shop to have our class.

The front of the coffee shop had a couple of tables and the register where an employee was working, but behind a glass and wooden partisan was the back of the store, where we decided to talk. It was a great little place. There were couches to lie out on (instead of tables and chairs), and there was quite a bit of local art hanging on the walls: several figure pieces of local people, a still life of some fruit and a landscape piece. I don't remember anything that we talked about, except sharing some of my experiences abroad, but it was a fun class. I had some nice coffee, and I got paid, too.

We met up again a few days later, when Tim and Jessie picked me up in their car. This time, though, they brought their daughter with them. She was the cutest pudgy baby I had ever seen. I spent a long time making faces and lightly poking her in the back of the car. When we got to our destination, a small ice cream restaurant, they let me hold her as we walked in. She was very easygoing about it, and when we got inside, I passed her back to her parents.

The restaurant was pretty small, and we got a table on the right hand side, Tim and me on one side, and Jessie and the baby on the other. There was a little freezer with a sliding, horizontal window on the way in, and it held the ingredients for the ice cream that you could make yourself. I chose mostly fruity stuff, and when the server brought it and I took my first bite, I was in heaven. Again, I don't remember anything of what we talked about, so I'll just skip ahead to one more recollection I have of Tim and Jessie.

In an email conversation, I told Tim that I needed to buy an electric razor. So, he, Jessie and I all went to the center of the main city, parked in a pay parking lot and headed out to go to an electronics fair. But first, we headed to a large park to walk around a bit and talk. It was beautiful there: there was a huge fountain in the middle, and there were stone paths leading in several directions out from it. Each path went to a different area: one went to a miniature forest, another went up a little hill to the south, and yet another passed by a tiny lake on its way back to the main road where cars were whizzing by. I steered us to the lake, talking with Tim and Jessie as I looked at the fish in the waters.

That was one of many moments where a flash of euphoria hit me. Everything became clear at once: I was a great man, abroad, and seeing something that almost no other man from America had ever seen. And even better, there was more to come. As an unmarried man, there was always more to come.

Tim, Jessie and I walked the rest of the way to the electronics fair, which was being held in a massive tent in the middle of another park. Inside, there were stalls set up as far as the eye could see. There was an appliance shop, a music store, a computer parts store, every kind of shop you could imagine for the technologically deprived. We couldn't find my razor, but I went to browse around a computer game store for a little while, seeing if there were any new games released while I was abroad. I saw one that looked interesting: Lord of the Rings - Tactics for the PSP. At that moment, I didn't have enough money to get it, but I felt another rush of euphoria as I held the game in my hands.

In a month, I can buy this, I thought to myself, and nobody can stop me.

In truth, it wasn't the game I was interested in so much as it was the freedom of purchasing it. I had spent so much of my life being chained down by college debts, sky high rent and food bills, or being denied by the people who controlled the money (my parents, my landlord...). But this was one of the first moments that I realized that I was going to be the one to control my finances, because I was the one who would be making the cash. I would provide for myself, and entertain myself, with my own strength. And if I ever ran short of money, or wanted to buy something out of my price range, then I would just work harder.

As for Tim and Jessie, I met them several more times in the coming months. I admit that our earlier experiences are very fuzzy to me now (most likely because they were classes), but I just wanted to introduce them in this Then and Now. In any case, I'm still thankful to them for providing me that experience inside and outside the electronics tent, where I caught short glimpses of my true strength of the man I was.

As for today...

I woke up at 8:30.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I watched TV.
I ate lunch.
My wife and son went out with his grandma.
I played video games.
My wife and son came home, so I turned off the computer.
I took my son to the arcade, then we ate at McDonald's, then we went home.
I watched TV.
My wife went out with her mom.
I played cars with my son.
I roughhoused with him.
My wife came home.
I ate dinner.
I watched TV.
I played video games.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I played video games.
I slept.

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