I move locations about as often as some people buy new socks. Actually…probably a lot more often than that. I don’t really have any idea how often people buy socks. That was a terrible analogy. Point is, in 27 years I’ve lived in close to 20 places. Most of those in the last decade. Some for years, some for mere weeks or months. It’s hard to keep track. And because people always ask where I’m from…here it is. The complete list:
You should all be very impressed with my graphic design skills. I made that myself.
By the time I was in middle school, I was used to the concept of leaving friends and making new ones. By the time I was 23, packing my life into a suitcase was second nature. The thought of missing home was as absurd as the idea of having one location actually be home. Wherever I was at the moment was as much home as the place before it.
And so, when I moved to Chiang Mai last year, it became home. And after 14 months of living here, it actually does feel like it. I know the streets and alleys, the best cafes and spots for beer, the cheapest smoothies, and best hiking spots. And while I’ve missed certain people from the States, I haven’t actually felt “homesick” since I’ve moved here.
In the past couple of months, my life here has been beginning to wear on me, far more than it had during my first year. Seemingly insignificant things have begun to snowball from minor annoyances to big frustrations. Ordering food at a restaurant and swearing you ordered chicken and rice NO SPICY, and instead receiving seafood soup that sets your mouth on fire. Going to the supermarket and seeing plain yogurt on sale and then getting home and realizing it’s not plain yogurt and it wasn’t on sale. Constantly having to worry about visas and immigration check-ins and residence notifications. Having Thai folks look at you like you’re stupid when you use the wrong word or accidentally make an etiquette mistake. Breathing in smoke instead of air for two months straight. Motorbike accidents that leave all your internal organs intact but leave the top layer of your skin smeared across a gravelly underpass. You didn’t want that, did you? WELL ACTUALLY, THAI PAVEMENT, I DID. GIVE IT BACK.
All those little things that eventually add up to this: I am an outsider here. I always will be. I will never really belong.
Now, you can argue that point all you want and say home is what you make it and there are frustrations inherent in any place you live. And I know that. It’s true.
But I also know that I am ready for a break. Some distance, some familiarity, and the ability to make small talk without accidentally saying “I wish you bad luck” instead of “so beautiful!”
And so, I will return to the States. And even though Thomas Wolfe claims “You can’t go home again,” I’m still gonna try. And maybe soon I’ll make my home someplace new. Or maybe someplace old. WHO KNOWS?
I’m open to adventure, and I’m excited for what’s next. And maybe after a couple months floating around the US, I’ll return to Asia. Maybe not. Stay tuned.