It was just so good to have Thai food again.
Afterwards, we went next door to an Asian market. What? Yes. An Asian market. I couldn't believe it. It was so amazing to find this little world in the middle of Strip-Mall City. I got tapioca pearls and joss paper.
I never knew what joss paper was. My first encounter with it was in San Francisco, 1998, spring break senior year of college. Hannah and I were walking up one of the hills, and suddenly the wind picked up and we were rained on by little sheets of rice paper with a metallic square on each. We were both enchanted by the squares of paper, and collected as many as we could. Through the years, I used them sparingly, not knowing where to find more, or how to make them. I mostly put them on candles. The orange and gold squares looked beautiful against red or blue ones.
So I was really excited to find them at the market, and I asked the woman running the store what they were used for. She said the papers were burned at the New Year. I hope she wasn't offended that I bought them without knowing what they were. Now that I know their religious significance, they're even more special to me. I like that I had such a strong connection to them from the beginning and then discovered that they had an even greater spiritual significance than I originally knew.
I feel like if I had any rituals that I felt comfortable performing, I'd want the joss papers to figure into them. But since I am not comfortable with ritual, I think I'll instead give them quiet respect and reflection.