Monday, April 10, 2006

Kirsten's Tale

I met a lovely lady from Denmark through the local co-op in Sacramento about 10 years ago. She was visiting here taking a chef's class and we spent a lot of time together palling around before she had to go back to Denmark. We lost touch for about 10 years, and at the first of this year I sent a letter to her old address hoping to find out what had become of her.

I wanted to transcribe the contents of her letter to me, here for you all to read. I did not change her use of English or alter her story in any way. I thought it would be more powerful. Here is part one of Kirsten's Tale:
I send you my last US dollars from my trip to Sri Lanka Christmas of 2004. I have never been in the far east before and some years before I got to know a woman who had 2 adopted children and a house in Sri Lanka. She got divorced and started up a business there, building a house by the beach with her young lover 20 years younger than her.

So at the time my housing situation had collapsed and I ended up staying with my Dad for a while.. I had gone through a strong depression and 1 ½ years before had a strange dream about a huge tall killer wave freezing right in front of my house. I got through my depression and since my work situation is stable I decided to take a vacation far away to Sri Lanka.

I had strange thoughts about death before the trip, doing crazy things like giving away my clothes, organizing life for my cat in case my Dad died, copying my passport, drawing exactly where I was, and thoughts about my own death.

I left Denmark on 6th of December with my friend’s adopted son, Anders, who was ten years old. The monsoon rains had not stopped and I was stressed from that because Denmark had been so rainy. It influenced my mood so much. A very new, strange continent and culture for me.

I had lived in a hotel at the beach very cheap and Lisbeth I visited was not an easy person. Very charismatic and dramatic. Anders was a lovely, intelligent boy. Vipolas her boyfriend was rarely able to talk to me unless he got drunk. A young immature boy/man, so, I was by myself again. I planned a trip up to the mountains where I had strange dreams and started to feel so uncomfortable for many days. Like a snake that had to change it’s skin. It was a feeling in my spine. I forgot about that again and life and holiday went on. We experienced scrubbing elephants, bathing in a river, 2 hours riding in a jungle on an elephants’ back and watching wild elephants from a jeep. Fantastic! It was so great! I was like the most happy kid on the planet. At this moment I was not thinking about killer waves or death I was so much alive with the elephants and the wilderness. Past times, and future, money, a place to live were so much out of my mind.

We came back from the mountains a couple of days before Christmas and Anders and I were set to fly back on the 29th. I was happy. Skinny, sunburned, with the spirit of elephants in me. I was feeling safe, even in this strange country and in spite of my disturbing dreams. I could not change my dreams. I experienced later that I could in fact influence how I reacted to them. Which became life-important for me! It saved my life! I know how to live on the edge of: “Do I want to Live or Die?” And you do, too! It is not easy to be that kind of person.

On Christmas I went with Lisbeth and Anders to a big house owned by a British man. We spent time on the beach until 11:00pm. It was beautiful with fire, lights, candles and relaxed, happy people. I went to bed and woke up early on the 26th and took an early swim as the only one in the beautiful Indian Ocean. I stayed on the beach for a long time, watching nature and life, and had major discussions with myself about that morning, that day, my future. I decided that going along the beach to Lisbeth’s house was not what I wanted; always some drama there. I needed my space so I went along to the room and took a shower, neatly packing my bag before I left to go have lunch at a vegetarian restaurant. I was on the ground floor, and had several impulses to move up but was too lazy to organize it. To speak with one man you need 3 men, nothing is rational there! I left with my handbag and the blue dress I had on.

This restaurant was in a little laguna with jungle all around. I met a man there from Germany who had been at the Christmas party. We sat outside and had just ordered breakfast on the first floor. It was the closest I should come to paradise. Not so many tourists and a private beach where Anders and I had played in the wonderful waves for hours until he just wore me out!

I still get to cry from it even though the memories and deep fear finally left me in the last two months, one and a half years after the tsunami arrived.

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