After nearly five years in Bangkok, we are moving back to the United States.
Life is so unpredictable in so many wonderful ways. I caught myself all this week thinking about late 2010 – the excitement we felt when Frank was offered a job in Thailand (also the elation since the other potential option was…Turkmenistan). Like all monumental things, it feels both like it just happened and like it happened a lifetime ago.
Our family that started out as just two is bigger and more fun. And louder.
But as anyone who has traveled outside their comfort zone (be it overseas or to a new job, a new house, a new anything really) knows well, the uncomfortable experiences define us. We only really know all we are capable of and, in truth, what our limitations are when we’re pushed. Bangkok has done that for me.Living as an expat, especially in this age of social media and blogs and video chats, is so different than even ten years ago when Frank was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria and I was teaching kids at a children’s home in Romania. That was a time of internet cafes and international care packages that required bribing postal workers with cookies. Today we can talk with and see our family and friends nearly any time we want. It’s never quite the same, but it’s pretty darn good.
Despite all the ways to be connected, to live in a different culture is to commit to a life of being forever divided. One part of your heart is always home. And now, on the brink of our return, I am reminded that one part of your heart is always in the other culture too. After all the farewells and the packing and getting on that plane, a small part is forever left behind.
Thailand drew me in. It got to me in a way that I’ll never totally understand. Really, even after five years, I was here only long enough to scratch the surface. But the memories I’ll have of my daily life here are vivid- colors and sounds, monks in their orange robes in the early morning light, sunshine through palm trees, pink taxis and stuttering tuk-tuks.
And the food.
Oh how I’ll miss the food.
So, farewell Bangkok. Thanks for all the great memories. Thank you for taking us in and being kind to us most of the time. (If you could do something about your traffic before we return for a visit, that would be peachy.) Thank you for all the fun times you offered us as newlyweds, for introducing us to friends we’ll surely have for the rest of our lives, and most of all thank you for our sweet, Bangkok-born girls.
It’s goodbye for now, but we’ll be back.
And you, America, I’ve got my eye on you – see ya Sunday.
(All that great food came from our final Bangkok farewell dinner at Soul Food Mahanakorn. Soul Food was where we had our first Bangkok date night and the food and cocktails are every bit as good as they on that first visit.)