After twenty-three hours of flying I land in a city that is so different from anything I have ever known. I am immediately overwhelmed by the sights, smells, language I cannot understand, and the intense heat. I find myself in a hotel room after stumbling around a language barrier to get to the right place, and physically feel the exhaustion, confusion, and questioning hit me. What am I even doing here, and for so long? Why did I feel the need to leave a perfectly good life back home, surrounded by friends and family who love me more than anything, who make me laugh and know me to the core and are always, always there for me?
I miss my friends so much. I miss my family. I miss my dog. I miss quiet mornings with a mug of hot coffee and sunlight dripping through trees leaves to warm my cheeks and shoulders. I miss the beautiful, simple things and wonderful people that filled my days.
Here I am living something completely different for a while. I worked so hard to make this opportunity for myself, to make this longtime dream of mine come true. And yet there are moments when I want to give it up and return to everyone and everything I love.
It has been much harder than I anticipated in so many ways, but I also know it will be an experience I will never forget. I have made new friends who are coming to visit me in my new town this weekend; I have succeeded in overcoming the language barrier to make a tentative friendship with the woman who owns my favorite lunch place; I have hiked up a mountain with thousands of other people, alongside monks, arriving at the top hours later in the darkness to see a temple of gold; I have been given perspective and courage and confidence.
I realize now, with a wholly new kind of appreciation, how fortunate I am to have a place that feels like home to me and people who make it so difficult to leave. That kind of tether is underrated in today’s jet-setting society. Everyone talks of leaving; someone tells me how many places they’ve been, the cities and countries and states, and now I hear, at the same time, how many places they’ve left. They say that not leaving means you’re just afraid, but I don’t know. Maybe. But part of it could be that it is so beautiful to stay sometimes. It’s all about leaving nowadays – people ask you where you’ve been, how many places, how many times have you uprooted your life to partake in the adventures that can only be found by jetting off to unknown worlds. It’s a good thing, mostly, this new trend. And yet, ask me where I’ve stayed, and I can give you a better picture of me than when I tell you the places I’ve been. In the place I call home, herons glide overhead, land in the glistening lake as the first rays of sun show themselves and everything starts to come alive. Lilac bushes are in bloom, big and purple and blue and beautiful, and their sweet smell floats in the air. I watch painted clouds move across the sky, changing shape in billowing spirals. The black kitten with the mangled tail comes up to rub across my legs, purrs when I scratch his head. I have hot, bitter coffee in a little restaurant where they decorate for every holiday, legs tucked up on the leather of the booth, a friend across from me and window beside me.
What I’m saying is that there is beauty in every decision, every lifestyle, every place. Don’t forget to notice the things all around you, because one day you may ache for the quiet mornings, for a soft breeze on your face as birds circle lazily in the sky, for a familiar face that knows you and what you need, for a place that feels like home. And in the same breath, I want to tell you that you can make a home for yourself anywhere in this world. There are kind people, lifelong friends you haven’t yet met, safety and comfort and adventure and goodness in all corners of the world. I’m trying to curate a home here in this place for myself, and I am holding on to that hope.