I am still debating whether I made the best decision or the worst mistake when I showed my students Frozen. Yes, I did actually expose that movie to the Burmese children. Just like all of us after we first saw Frozen, their lives will never be the same. Can you imagine a life without Frozen? That would be a life without Olaf quotes, a life without the Elsa “Do It Yourself” hair tutorials on Pinterest, a life without the ultimate Tangled vs. Frozen debate.
But more importantly, it would be a life without the legendary and epic song, “Let It Go.”
Yeah, that’s right. There was a point and time in history when the song, “Let It Go” never actually existed…I’m sure it existed in our minds, but once again, Disney was able to perfectly express everything that we had been feeling…and create the most popular song yet.
I’m not quite sure what it is about “Let It Go” that gets everyone pumped up so much. It’s either the girl power nobody-tells-me-what-to-do message or the catchy chorus, but all I can say is that I have never met a tween who hasn’t fallen in love with the song. Even in a small rural school in Thailand, “Let It Go” was able to work its magic for the kids. Alas, Disney, you’ve done it again!
I didn’t think I’d be that teacher, but I am…I’m the cool teacher. The fun teacher who comes in during lunch to teach kids songs, such as “Let It Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” I was even cool enough to choreograph a dance to “Let It Go” for my students, who somehow convinced me to perform with them onstage at my organization’s 14th anniversary. Of course, when I agreed to dance with my students, I didn’t realize that it also meant I was to wear a transparent blue nightgown in front of the entire school. I looked like Wendy (from Peter Pan). Highlight of my career, right there.
“Let It Go” has been a hit song in the school. I hear students sing it everywhere. As I pass through classrooms, I hear them sing it in class. I hear them sing it on the football field. I hear them sing it when playing with their jump ropes. Sometimes they’ll yell it across the football field to catch my attention.
Not only has “Let It Go” haunted me at school, but it seems to have become a theme song during my time in Thailand. After hearing my sister, Jenna, blast that song in the car every time she has a bad day, it has started to grow on me. I can relate to the song in so many ways. Take my motorbike for instance:
When my sister, Bethany, came to visit, I realized that I couldn’t drive her around on my dorky Mr. Bean-like bicycle, so I decided to rent a motorbike. Excited about our new form of freedom, we decided to venture out to the beach. Of course, that is where I accidentally hit on a Burmese guy and now he stalks me every time I go to the beach. That is another story that I covered in my previous blog (check out blog post 120 Days for the full story). Frustrated at my blonde moment, I had to remind myself to just let it go….I’ve accidentally hit on guys before, so it’s not a big deal (although it proved to be a big deal in the future because I go to that beach everyday…and now he’s my official stalker…oh well. Just let it go).
As we get to our motorbike, I realize that I can’t even turn it on. Great. I just rented a new motorbike and I can’t even start it. Of course, there a ton of Thai guys around (always there when I need them!) who were staring at us…probably wondering why two extremely white girls were even attempting to ride a motorbike together. They started laughing at us…luckily it was dark, so nobody could see my blushing red face. Finally, one of the guys steps in and turns it on. I need to establish the fact that he struggled for quite a while to start the motorbike, so it wasn’t just me! I’m not an idiot, don’t worry. As embarrassing as it was, I needed to remember to just let it go.
Then we went out to eat at one of my local restaurants where they all know me. Of course, when we get up to leave, I can’t start the motorbike again. It was starting to get really embarrassing as they all stared at me as my motor would be sooooooo close to turning on and then “blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” Nothing. So I turn to one of the waitresses and ask her to help. She simply walks up and barely twists the starter. And it turns on. I swear, I had been doing that for the past 4 ½ minutes and NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. Everyone looked at me like I was some sort of a stupid white girl…which I guess I am. It’s too bad it happened at the restaurant where I’m a regular. Now they’ll always remember me as the dork who can’t start her own motorbike. Oh well, who cares about what people think about me in Thailand. Just let it go.
Then we went to the market, where we explored, saw some weird things, had some Thai guys hit on us and give us some free drinks, the usual. As we head back to our motorbike, I start to tense up, realizing that I parked right in front of one of the fancier restaurants in town. This fancy restaurant also had several Thai guys standing outside, waiting to greet the customers who came in. I immediately tried to point out which guy would help me start my motorbike because, knowing my luck these days, it was not going to start. As I cautiously get on the bike, I close my eyes as I put my key into the ignition…it starts. “VROOOM!” Ah, the most beautiful sound in the world! It worked! I was so excited, I screamed with joy. And we were off!
We went probably a couple meters until I realized that our motorbike tire was incredibly and unmistakably flat. Great. As if starting it was hard enough, now I can’t even move it after the engine works. Also, I forgot to address my helmet issues as well…I had a broken helmet, so I was unable to adjust it. Therefore, whenever we would drive on the highway (Thai highway…a little different from I-25) the helmet would fly backwards and I would be sitting there, choking from the latch that was attached under my chin. People say that helmets are safe…honestly, I probably had a higher probability of choking to death from my helmet than getting into an accident. Ironic, isn’t it?
Of course, we were nowhere near a petrol station, so I decided to drive on some road until I could brainstorm some solution. Yeah, probably not a good idea to keep driving on the flat tire, but YOLO (did I really just type, “YOLO”?)! I drove on and finally stopped at a store that had several Thai guys sitting outside. Yes. All I need are a couple of guys to see two helpless foreign girls. What could possibly go wrong with that situation? Ok, a lot could go wrong. Definitely. I realized just how stupid I was and how terrible this situation could be. But I didn’t care. Asking for help when one is living overseas is essential, especially in my sort of situations. I showed the guys my flat tire and they pointed to the man in the store. The man comes out to help me, dials a couple numbers in my phone, tells me to sit down and wait, and so we did. This is the part where you’d expect Bethany and me to get kidnapped, taken away somewhere, never to be seen again. But yet again, Thailand seems to pleasantly surprise me. Within a couple of minutes, a man came in a pickup truck. The man in the shop comes outside, points to my motorbike, and the other man gets to work. As I held a flashlight for him, he quickly begins to change the tire.
All Bethany and I could think about is how much these guys are going to try to rip us off. It’s the middle of the night, we’re at some random convenience store, and the mechanic drives to us from his shop to fix our motorbike. Without a doubt, this is a great opportunity for him to take advantage of two foreign girls and take all of our money. After he finished, he turned to me and told me the price. I was shocked. Not only was it cheap, but it was the same price any Thai or Burmese person would pay if they were in my situation. That usually doesn’t happen with foreigners, especially with two foreign girls. It’s refreshing to see people in this country actually treat us like human beings and not try to take advantage of us. So amidst the random issues we had with our motorbike, I was happy to witness a dose of humanity that was shown to us by the Thai men.
Looking back at all the little quirks my rented motorbike had, I realized that it was a great time for me to learn to just let things go. Sure, I might have embarrassed myself in front of dozens of people. I continue to embarrass myself on a daily basis here, whether it’s saying that a guy is super-hot when I want to say that my drink is sweet, or walking into class with my skirt on backwards and blue marker all over my face, I have learned to just let it go.
If you learn anything when living overseas, you will learn that there is so much truth in the saying, let it go. You will seldom be in control of situations. You will always be in a constant state of confusion. You will continually embarrass yourself and stand out amongst the crowd. Your motorbike won’t work. You’ll accidentally flirt with people in a foreign language. Everything will be the opposite of what you planned. Nothing is predictable. Everything is unpredictable.
Big deal. That’s life overseas.
Just let it go.