Two months ago, I cried when my Dad dropped us off at Newark International Airport. I felt it all– sadness not seeing my family for months, missing out on friends and so many friends’ growing families, excitement about the unknown, the freedom of a one-way ticket, and most forcibly– knowing that it was too late to turn back.
I focused on excitement and then settled into happy with a glass of champagne in First Class. Thirty hours, three champagnes, 4 movies and one ambien later and we found ourselves sitting in a gorgeous room booked on points at the Sheraton Singapore thinking to ourselves, “this is as good as it’s going to get”.
And in some ways it was. Beautiful, familiar surroundings. Signs everywhere in a language we speak. Navigable public transit. The new-ness of how fun this was going to be! Marveling at the distance how far away home felt.
A lot has changed in two months. We are having a blast, but we have a different perspective these days. We aren’t on vacation anymore, this is our life.
We are doing some things right: spending longer amounts of time places to settle in, not rushing to see too much at once, building in time to stay in touch with both current events and friends and family.
We are also doing some things wrong. We are sleeping like teenagers. We don’t have a good daily routine. We are being indulgent like vacation in terms of food, lazing about, and money in a way that weighs on you. You know that feeling at the of vacation on when you are a tiny bit happy to going home and getting back to normal? We’ve blown past that but with no end in sight and no good plans to fix it. And with no one else here, no boss, no dog, no friend waiting for us to do something by a certain time, we’ve become a bit lazy in our days and in our standards for treating each other human beings.
We have fought about: walking this way, walking that way, eat now, eat later, stay here, stay there, why did you cross the road without me, why did you say that, why won’t you listen to me, why did you sit in the back of the bus and not let me, being cranky, having low blood sugar, and making that joke. That’s just in the past 24 hours.
We have, however, laughed about: a inadvertently saucy shop name, a group of old white people gathered for a Thai lesson, a cute dog, being perplexed by an American waitress at a cowboy themed bar, and elephants. We laugh every time key quotes come up in conversation from our travels. We roll our eyes when we see dorky Western people wearing socks and sandals. We pet dogs (but Mom– only ones that look Rabies-free).
Some days you laugh more and fight less. Some days it’s the other way around. 50% of the time fights are due to blood sugar. The other 50% are due to us being different people with different personalities who have no personal space.
But we are in this together and wouldn’t have this trip go any other way. We have released ourselves from what we “SHOULD” be doing and since then have felt freer and lighter. We have some fun announcements about our route– we are making some big changes that I think will make us happier people– and probably more useful people too.
Suffice to say that Asia has been…. Asian… And the world is too big for us to not see more places.
This trip is ours — we have been repeating that over and over again. We are not going to end up gluing patches to our bags, wearing low-crotched “ethnic” pants jockeying with with other travelers about what is “hard”, authentic, and unseen. We are style-conscious, food-obsessed city people who stare endlessly at public transportation maps. Rattling around a bus in Lao is not really on my list of fun. Why should we do it if it’s not? We have money saved, tons of frequent flyer miles, hotel points and the internets.
Tomorrow we move into an apartment here in Chiang Mai for a weekend for vacation– and by vacation we mean being normal people. Getting up at a decent hour. Exercising. Making our own coffee. Cooking breakfast. Watching TV from not a bed. Long term travel can warp your sense of reality and we both are really looking forward to a small dose of it.