Reconnecting with my Soul Tribe at the International School Bangkok All-Class Reunion in San Jose - 24-29 July 2014
As I've described many times before, I grew up in Southeast Asia in the sixties and the seventies. It was an incredible childhood and youth, one I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China, but when the time came for me to leave and to come "home" to a land I barely knew . . . well, you can't possibly imagine the sensations of loss, of loneliness, of exile. The closest I can describe it is the feelings returned veterans have of a shared adventure, the most intense time of their lives, that nobody around them knows or can possibly understand.
Again and again I have heard my friends from that time of my life remark upon the same themes: coming "home" and missing an exotic land in Asia, a magical kingdom that for us really was our home. When I came "home" I was a lost soul. I didn't have a plan, I didn't know how to connect the dots . . . I couldn't even understand how people looked at me and saw me as the same as them, but inside I was so, so different . . . it literally took decades just to get my head around it . . .
Nowadays we "ISBeings" reconnect through our biannual Reunions, alternating between the west and the east coast. For us, this is more than a high school reunion - this is the only way we can go "home". Bangkok is still there, of course, but our friends and families are no longer there. I went back to Bangkok in 1988 and it broke my heart. I was standing in the middle of Sukhumvit Road - one of the busiest thoroughfares in one of most vibrant and bustling cities in Asia - and I might as well have been in a ghost town.
If you can't be in Thailand, you must bring Thailand to YOU! Thai dancers at the Saturday night banquet.
The home of our youth is more a moment in time than a physical place. Sure, Thailand is still there, but our home is the Thailand of our youth. At the ISB Reunions a strange phenomenon takes place. At some point over the four days, a strange kind of vivid deja-vu occurs, all of the alumni describe it:
Words aren't enough to describe . . . but pictures are worth thousands of words . . .
More little bits and pieces of Thailand . . . because when you're an ISBeing, wherever you go, there's always a little piece of Thailand there . . .
Our Tribal Gatherings allow us to reach back across the Mists of Time and briefly touch our Shangri-La beneath the Summer Moon . . .