November, 2021. I’d been twiddling my thumbs in a hotel in Everett, Washington coming up on two months, waiting to get back to Thailand. The constantly mutating Coronavirus had made overseas travel in turn impossible, dangerous, then very difficult. Nor was Thai Immigration very accomodating with their new Thailand Pass program. One went out to a website and had to enter a plethora of information such as proof of vaccination and insurance, proof of a negative Covid test within three days of departure, and a signed note from your maternal grandmother attesting to your good health. Oh, and also an attached reservation at one of the approved Bangkok hotels, where you were expected to reside for at least three nights.
All the hoops to jump through made me decide to forget trying to get into the country until the Covid threat receded (and heaven knew how long that would take). Reluctantly, I extend my stay at the hotel, resigning myself to the dubious pleasures of a gloomy Pacific Northwest winter.
“Here comes that rainy day feeling again.”
It wasn’t like it rained every day during the time I was marooned in Everett enduring the clouds and darkness; it just seemed that way. To try and keep my spirits up, I took long walks on a bike trail near the hotel (carrying an umbrella, of course). I also had my friends Gail and Steve. I’d stop over at their house on a Thursday or Sunday and watch an NFL game with Steve, usually the Seahawks, who got in the habit of letting contests slip away in the second half. Later the expansion Seattle Kraken began their first season. Steve is Canadian, meaning hockey is practically a religion and with him explaining the rules (e.g. icing), I eventually became an honest-to-goodness fan. I don’t know if this would qualify me for citizenship should I someday wish to live in, say, Edmonton, but it could not hurt.
As for the virus, masks remained a requirement in any public building, Washington being a “blue” state. Nobody seemed to be upset about it, and I never got sick. The only thing that had me scratching my head was a public service announcement on one of the local channels that urged all Washingtonians to continue wearing masks to protect those “who could not get vaccinated”. What did they mean by that? Were some people being held hostage by anti-vaxers? I had been able to get my original and followup shots with no trouble.
Aside from my friends and afternoon walks, there wasn’t much else to do during my sojourn. The short days congealed into a grey blur as I killed time waiting for better news from the Land of Smiles. My laptop being elsewhere, I had to rely on the hotel’s cable network for entertainment. This meant I saw many movies — multiple times. If you ever want to know anything about the characters in the Aussie film The Dry, just ask me.
It snowed three times around Christmas and in January. I had not seen the white stuff for many years, snow being somewhat scarce in Bangkok, and got a thrill being outside in it. That is, until I had to struggle my way to and from the grocery store, which caused the novelty to wear off somewhat.
And so the months slowly passed… At no time did I consider throwing in the towel, just saying the hell with it all and settling down in the U.S. I wanted the life I had back.