I’ve been thinking a lot about whether it might be time to pack it up and say goodbye to the Kingdom of Thailand. When plans A and B fall through and you’ve given it all you have to give, you think to yourself, maybe I’ve done what I came here to do. Maybe the chapter is over. Maybe it’s time for some perspective. The people who love you in your home country want you to return. The people who love you abroad want you to stay. It’s not so easy to uproot when you’ve built a life 8,000 miles away from your origin. You have friends and lovers and colleagues and interests and you are indeed at home in a foreign land. I am torn between two worlds – one foot planted on two continents. You get to a place where you don’t necessarily know where you belong anymore. People back home can’t necessarily relate with this. And returning means you walk away from all the possibility, adventure and internationality – the enchanting life abroad that even with its twists and turns and highs and lows has taken you so much further than you thought you could go. How can you walk away from that? Not easily, I’m afraid. A friend recently posted an article about this on my Facebook wall. I relate so wholeheartedly with this excerpt:
“So you look at your life, and the two countries that hold it, and realize that you are now two distinct people. As much as your countries represent and fulfill different parts of you and what you enjoy about life, as much as you have formed unbreakable bonds with people you love in both places, as much as you feel truly at home in either one, so you are divided in two. For the rest of your life, or at least it feels this way, you will spend your time in one naggingly longing for the other, and waiting until you can get back for at least a few weeks and dive back into the person you were back there. It takes so much to carve out a new life for yourself somewhere new, and it can’t die simply because you’ve moved over a few time zones. The people that took you into their country and became your new family, they aren’t going to mean any less to you when you’re far away.
When you live abroad, you realize that, no matter where you are, you will always be an expat. There will always be a part of you that is far away from its home and is lying dormant until it can breathe and live in full color back in the country where it belongs. To live in a new place is a beautiful, thrilling thing, and it can show you that you can be whoever you want — on your own terms. It can give you the gift of freedom, of new beginnings, of curiosity and excitement. But to start over, to get on that plane, doesn’t come without a price. You cannot be in two places at once, and from now on, you will always lay awake on certain nights and think of all the things you’re missing out on back home.”
Let me also add that you lay awake at night not knowing how you can possibly ever leave. How can you close a chapter of your life that has been perhaps the most spectacular chapter? A chapter filled with things you never imagined possible – a chapter spanning Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Nepal with adventures, experiences and stories from each place. A chapter that has allowed me to work in human rights which five years ago was only a pipe dream. A chapter that has brought people into my life from all over the world and made me a better person for it — England, Ireland, Germany, Turkey, Republic of Congo, Russia, Canada, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Chile, Argentina, Japan, South Korea and China. To stay or to go? That is the question. Some tell me that when you are ready to return you will know. Some tell me that the excitement of returning wears off and they want nothing more but to be back out in the world again. I can only follow my heart which right now is torn.