The Silver Pen and the Singapore Wedding — By Jennifer Shipp
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The Silver Pen and the Singapore Wedding — By Jennifer Shipp

I always knew, or rather, believed, that when Lydian finally met the right guy that things would happen quickly. I had a hard time picturing her dating for a prolonged period because Lydian makes tight relationships quickly. She gets attached and holds on to people for dear life. I figured the odds were good that she’d fall for someone who was wired with a similar attachment style. And they wouldn’t dither. They’d fall fast and fall hard and the rest would be history.

But I guess I never really considered the word “quickly” in it’s full resplendence and how this sort of situation might unfold in terms of Lydian and love interests. Thoughts about “quickly” were there, but I never elaborated on them fully. Maybe that’s because Lydian has been pursued by so many men and boys over the years and not one of them has piqued her interest beyond the mildest affirmation that, “yes…there’s a boy pursuing me”. I guess I figured she’d meet someone and fall in love quickly, but that it would happen when she was 25 or 27 years old (since this is the current trend for people her age).

I feel like laughing at myself now for my naivete. I could not have seen this coming. Of all the places we visited in Southeast Asia, Burma was last on my list of possible places where Lydian might meet her soul mate. I mean, we were only there for four days! Again, I feel like laughing about it. I can’t believe this happened. But of course they would meet in a vegetarian restaurant! Of course. It makes so much sense that it kind of blows my mind.

Several years ago, Lydian did a hypnotherapy session where she asked her guides for information about her soul mate. A silver pen, a suitcase, and a calico kitten popped into her mind: a cryptic, indecipherable oracle that made no sense to her at the time. It made no sense to me either except for the suitcase, which seemed obvious in a way. I figured that Lydian would meet her boy on a trip that she took abroad alone one day. I did not, however, consider the possibility that the suitcase would be a necessity or a major feature in the landscape of their initial meeting. The silver pen remained the most difficult symbol to decipher. Every now and then, she and I would joke about it.

The Silver Pen.

What did it mean?

I believe in past life-times and reincarnation. I believe that John and I have known each other and been together for centuries perhaps. We fell in love at first sight two decades ago. And when we travel, we often meet people in unlikely places who seem to be connected to us in inexplicable ways. Over the years, we’ve explored these thoughts and arrived at many theories about our most recent lifetimes. Lydian has grown up with these ideas and explorations too so she’s fluent in thinking about far-out things like spiritual connections.

Accordingly, through various activities from hypnotherapy to Sapito, Lydian arrived at the belief that her past lifetime was spent alone. She incarnated into a family of distant relationships and she had no strong, loving connections throughout her life. This previous lifetime was very sad and she died tragically in a state of isolation (staring up at two birds in a tree). So, in this current lifetime, she chose to have close connections. It was important that she was an only child so that she could be loved exclusively and with intensity. And it was important that we raised her with the ability to make strong connections so that she could find this person, her soul mate…so that she’d know him when she saw him and accept him readily.

She would have no emotional baggage. Instead, she and this boy would have real suitcases and they’d have to live in exile for a period of time before returning “home”.

When a person starts working with these ideas about reincarnation and trance states or whatnot, some really interesting things start happening. Over the years, Lydian and I have studied these states and she’s spent more time than I have working with them. Often, in fact, through most of her life, she’s felt really disillusioned and confused, but something happened when she turned 17 and we moved to Mexico. Over the course of a year and a half, she started to get the hang of how her mind and her emotions work for her. She accomplished so many things. She signed on with the estudiantina and worked as a professional musician. She got her TEFL and worked teaching English to Spanish language speakers. She finished her degree in business and graphic design. She volunteered as a graphic designer at a real estate company in Guanajuato. And she helped us build a house (which includes her own private apartment inside of it). She started our AirBnB business and really shined at that. But at the end of all this, all she really wanted was to get married and have kids one day. This was the missing piece. She was tireless at pursuing work and career interests, but how do you pursue a soul mate you’ve never met before?

I’ve always told her, that she’d find this person where she finds herself.

For the past few months, she’s been working hard to keep forging ahead on this search for herself, but it seemed far off. She felt depressed and despondent all the time. Boys would ask her out or text her, but she just wasn’t interested in any of them. And she’d reached a point where she almost didn’t believe she could be interested.

All of this probably sounds like fruit loops and wind chimes to you, dear reader, but I don’t care. This is where the story is. I mean, the pragmatics of how this boy named Naing Naing (pronounced Nine Nine) saw her and sought her, like a knight in shining armor would melt your heart. I promise you that. How he saw her across the room, a humble, but gentlemanly waiter in a vegetarian restaurant, spoke to her twice and then jumped on a bus to travel all the way from Bagan to Yangon overnight (with motion sickness no less) to get a passport so he could follow her to Mexico. How he got there and found out his National ID card had expired. And how he returned by night and intended to go back yet again to Yangon (vomiting and sick). He and Lydian texted and called each other during this entire time. They were in constant communication. How this boy from Bagan who’d never ridden an escalator, boarded a plane to meet her in Yangon. And how Lydian didn’t even look back at John and me when we dropped her off at the airport.

But there’s another layer of reality that requires scrutiny, in my opinion. Like how Lydian woke up twice in Malaysia believing there was someone sleeping with her in her bed. She got up and had a full conversation with this person in the middle of the night. And it wasn’t frightening to her (which was weird). It felt like this person belonged there, she said. She and I discussed the possibility that this was some kind of resonance with her soul mate, but you can’t prove something like that, so the theory hung there in mid-air as just a “fun thought”.

But then, right before we left Malaysia on our way to Thailand, I had a dream. In the dream, we were driving down a one-way street in a small town in Nebraska. This street led downtown. And another one-way street led away from downtown. John, Lydian, and I were riding in an SUV and as we approached the one-way that led downtown, there were dead bodies piled all over the road. We veered around them. And I was concerned. I didn’t understand why there were dead bodies everywhere.

I turned to Lydian and offered her a green pen. But she didn’t want the green pen. Then, I offered her a blue pen. She didn’t want that either. As we turned onto the one-way that led downtown, Lydian abruptly opened the door to get out of the car. She was going after The Silver Pen. John and I were to drive down the one-way downtown, turn around and come back down the other one-way to pick Lydian up 1 block away from where we left her.

She got out of the car suddenly to run past the piles of dead bodies. I felt terrified for her…

And then I woke up with a start.

The next night, I had a dream that Lydian and I were taking a yoga class. Everyone was wowed by the poses the instructor was doing, but I felt like it was inappropriate to be doing yoga since this was a hypnotherapy class. Lydian was in the class with me and she was sitting in a different place. She wanted to stay, but I wanted to leave. So I told her that I’d take the car and go home and then come back for her. I asked her where the keys to the car were and she said, “in the car”.

I tried moving to a different seat in the room to make peace with the instructor’s teaching style. There were other people’s backpacks everywhere. And it was like there was just no room for me there. I felt out of place and embarrassed to be there. Specifically, in my journal, I noted that the emotion I felt was uncomfortable and “complex”.

“Complex” is the specific word John and I have used to describe our emotions to each other over the past few weeks. We’re happy. We’re sad. We’re relieved. We’re worried. It’s a complex package.

So, after reviewing these dreams, when Lydian decided to stay behind in Burma, I wondered if John and I wouldn’t end up returning to Southeast Asia soon. But, even when we left Chiang Mai on the long transit home, I wondered why we’d have to return. I had no inkling of why we might have to go back. Maybe the dreams were just that…dreams.

But now, given the new information that we’ve gotten since we arrived home, I can see that the “car” or maybe the “key to the car” is the visa that Naing Naing would need before he and Lydian would be able to leave Southeast Asia. And John and I had to return to Mexico to sort out the visa situation. We had no choice about that. We have to do some legwork on this process and hit the streets to do it. We had to come back here to make the necessary connections. After reviewing all the options, the keys really were “in the car”. After Lydian and Naing Naing decided to get married a few days ago, visa options emerged and problems started to finally get solved.

It would take no less than an hour (and perhaps longer) for me to explain all the difficulties and details that Lydian and Naing Naing are contending with in terms of their nationalities and visa restrictions. It’s complicated. Last night, they were stopped at immigration, separated, and interrogated for 30 minutes in Singapore. It was terrifying for both of them. Lydian finally called John for help or they might have been deported.

In order to get married, they have to go live in two foreign countries (Singapore and Malaysia) over the course of two months. After 5 days of constant brainstorming, contacting immigration lawyers in both Mexico and the U.S. and a lot of friggin’ research, I finally put together a comprehensive 8 page document detailing the process they have to go through to marry and then get a visa for Naing Naing to come to Mexico.

To me, The Silver Pen has to do with the red tape that these two have to work through (mostly documents to sign and translate) in order to be together.

The suitcase is self-evident.

And the calico kitten? I don’t know yet. But maybe it has to do with the large number of calico kittens at his family’s house in Bagan, Burma. Burma is a cat-country for sure.

Do you believe me? Does it sound like I’m making this up?

It would be hard for me to fabricate this story. I couldn’t have imagined up a tale like this one in my wildest musings.

They first laid eyes on each other during a full moon, under a temple, by candlelight. And he’s a beautiful young Burmese man; as lovely as Lydian and as strange and interesting as she is worldly.

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