What is this life of travel? The life of an expat?
As many highs and incredible experiences as it provides, there are also quite a few lows.
I’ve lived in Bangkok for 6 weeks now. Long enough to learn how to pay all my bills except the phone bill, to kill half my house plants, and to get a grip around my job comparable to that of an experienced rock climber hanging on to an inch deep fissure. Strong enough to be secure, but not significant enough that something can’t quickly go awry. A sensation that for me, a perpetual chaser of change and one who quickly withers from routine, feels so familiar as to be downright comfortable.
I’ve grounded myself for a time here in Bangkok. Too much travel, too fast, with a little too much stress and anxiety about a new international move in the first few months of the year has made me force myself to stay in one city for at least one month. Probably two. Maybe.
And so I’ve acquired lamps and house plants and ironed out the schedule of water deliveries, dry cleaning, and housekeeper. I’m now at ease doing all my dishes by hand and clothes-pinning my wash while it dries on my 20th floor patio so that the the wind does not whip away my bras to my Japanese neighbors or the alleyways below filled with Thai shopkeepers as both audiences would probably react with similar fascination, morbid curiosity, and horror at the comparably outrageous size of said lingerie.
I’ve learned not to drive and either use a driver or take the train. My driver has learned which roads I absolutely hate and avoids them as a matter of course. I’ve presented now to the District President and my Region VP. I’ve had my first employee quit and I’ve rewritten job descriptions to start recruiting in yet another foreign country.
Which means that all the trivial or new job things that are so small in the scheme of life, but so greedy in their consumption of every corner of my mind when they first occur in a new setting have now passed.
And now comes a new phase in this life. A phase where there is enough space to sigh and realize I have to figure out how to make friends again. Quiet moments where I yearn for magic that would somehow either transport my nearest and dearest instantly to Bangkok for a glass of wine after work, or with the wave of a wand turn a new acquaintance into an bosom buddy I could feel utterly myself around.
Now comes the hour when I have to think hard about my escapist habits. Whether I want to turn off Hulu and Netflix services or find a way to make my VPN work so that I can watch TV constantly and pretend my unsettled personal life does not exist. When I have to deliberately choose whether I will drown in ice cream and be jealous of the embassy staff who are at least all thrown together into a foreign country, or if I will force myself into the random chance and awkward first meets of social gatherings like Meetups, InterNations and the like.
I’m currently half way between my escapist tendency, mourning for an easier path, and challenging myself to engage and build, yet again, a life in a new town. And my halfway place is one that finds comfort in literature and art which tells the story of women who are kindred spirits. Since, even if I haven’t found them yet in this new country, it’s still a comfort to know there are other women out there like me and men who find this world (and us women) just as fascinating.
So while I try and figure out if I have to courage to jump into this new unknown and find a new place for myself, and in case you’re feeling a bit out of sorts or, even for a moment, like you haven’t found or can’t easily access your heart-friends and kindred spirits, enjoy these trailers and a quote by Kristin Newman.
“My friends who met their spouses young have often told me they live vicariously through my adventures. That they sometimes think about the oats they never got to sow. There is a trade-off for both their choice and mine. […] I would tell [them], so full of twentysomething wisdom, that life is almost never about choosing between one thing you really want and another you don’t want at all. If you’re lucky, and healthy, and live in a country where you have enough to eat and no fear that you’re going to get shot when you walk out your door, life is an endless series of choosing between two things you want almost equally. And you have to evaluate and determine which awesome thing you want infinitesimally more, and then give up that other awesome thing you want almost exactly as much. You have to trade awesome for awesome.
Everyone I knew, no matter what they chose, was at least a little in mourning for that other thing.”