Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Countdown: Approximately Four Months Left

As eager as I've felt at times in the last few months to leave Thailand, I've also been feeling pangs of sadness, grief, and regret with the realization that our time here is now limited and finite. In a few months, we will be taking one last ride to the airport and leaving Thailand for good. I feel an unexpected ache when it hits me that what seemed an interminable period of time to explore and discover is almost over, that our life as it is now will no longer be in a few months, and that there will be a thousand things that we will have wanted to do that we will not get to and probably never will. It's surreal and bittersweet that our time here is actually coming to an end so soon.

Already, because of our decision to move back home this summer, our lives have become just a little bit more difficult. Since we're Americans moving back to our home country, shouldn't there be a sense of relief, anticipation, and happiness? But no, that's not the case at all. When we were getting ready to move here two years ago, it didn't seem all that difficult. Yes, it was stressful and scary to leave our entire lives behind and move across the world, not knowing what was in store for us here. And, yes, we went through a difficult period of adjustment and culture shock, which in our second year here has, on occasion, given way to annoyance and frustration at the way of life here. But we really didn't worry too much about how we would settle in once we were here. When we got here, there already was a community of people ready to help with whatever we needed -- housing, transportation, language barrier, grocery shopping....The transition really was quite smooth and easy considering we pretty much were starting our lives over halfway around the world.

Now, trying to do the reverse, it seems insurmountable. There already seems to be an infinite number of things we need to be thinking about and planning for: budgeting; shipping stuff home; housing; location of housing; school; work; and purchases of things we will need. The list goes on. Already, we feel as if we're bleeding money just from thinking about all the purchases we have to make upon our return. My husband has been navigating the maze that is our school system in order to get back into a teaching position there, and it has been much more difficult than we had expected. And there is no one who will be there to soften reality for us in our first days and weeks back home. Too, life will be more hectic back home -- gone will be the days when we come home to a house cleaned, clothes ironed, and dinner cooked, ready and waiting for us without us having to lift a finger. Gone, too, will be the days when people we rely on and people who are ready to help are right around the corner. We aren't even close to being home yet, but we're already feeling the negative effects of being there.

At the same time, with just a few months left, we're also trying to make up for lost time. Because of our circumstances -- living outside of the city with no easy way of getting around on our own, with a young child and no nanny -- we've missed out on many, many opportunities and activities that are unique to Thailand and to Bangkok that our single or childless friends have experienced, opportunities that can be found only if one has the luxury of time, energy, and freedom to wander aimlessly around the city for hours.

Still, we have a list a mile long of certain things we still hope to do in Bangkok -- farmers' markets, concerts in the park, museums, floating markets, cooking classes, restaurants, more massages and spas. Then there are more islands and cities in Thailand to visit. We also have this grand idea of purchasing some Thai furniture to ship home, so we have some mementos of our time here.

There are also still several places outside of Thailand that we want to see. Originally, we had hoped to go to China in April and maybe Australia this summer before going home. But the expenses involved in those two trips may force us to forego one or both trips. Between now and our departure in July, though, we still a bucket list to fulfill: Hong Kong, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, South Korea....

I am in mourning. I am not ready to go. I need more time. On the other hand, I am more determined than ever now to come back to live abroad, wherever it may be. And more than ever, I am keenly aware of how lucky we have been to have had, and so so grateful for, this amazing opportunity to see so much of the world in a short period of time, and to open our eyes to so many different ways of life and life's possibilities.

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