My Reflection at The Bean/ Cloud Gate, Millenium Park, Chicago, 2010.
"We always read your blog," our dear friend's dad said to us. "I want to see something about your visit to the US. Write something about us."
"Yes, Mr. Z.," I responded with a laugh. Thinking with my now Western-Asian mixed-mind-set that I must respect my elders, and that I'm sure he has wisdom in guiding us this way. Either way, I must listen.
And for quite a few weeks I tried. I'd scribble in my notebook about how great it felt to be surrounded by family and how easily we fit back in with our friends. I wrote a few half blog posts about how little culture shock we had going back to the US. (Rather odd, considering we're living in a very closed off country that is the poorest in southeast Asia, and yes, that's in comparison to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, etc.) I came up with all kinds of other half thoughts, but they didn't quite lead anywhere.
And then it struck me what was so notable about our time home. The common thread that ties together all my thoughts was feeling surrounded by love. I'd woken up half-way-around the world struck by familiarity and people that reflected me. I felt totally swept up, as if pulled in by a warm, comforting wave that hugged us, sat us down, and gave us a nice cup of tea. There were countless hugs, laughs, deep conversations, and really meaningful connections that are challenging to find on the road. Being surrounded by these lifelong relationships was so grounding. I didn't have to recreate myself. I didn't have to explain my story. I'd come home.
I guess I'd forgotten how good that had felt - to walk into a party and be surrounded by people that have known me for years. It was such a foreign feeling to truly know so many people and to look around and recall our histories. I don't think that I've taken them for granted, at least I hope not, but we've been gone for most of the last 4 years. After spending so much time with people that we're constantly still getting to know, it was really odd to be around people that we have histories with for longer than just a few months.
And of course we've built countless dear friendships on our path through 20-some countries, and these people have really taught me lot about myself and understand why I love my life of wander, but it comes with the territory that every time we get close, it's with the assumption that we'll say goodbye, and part ways, perhaps forever. This life of travel and self-discovery, has taught me so much, but I guess I hadn't quite realized how much I'd learned from the people we've also left behind.
I'm writing this from Yangon, weeks after we've returned from the US. Do we miss home? Heaps. Are we quitting our life of travel? Not yet.
We're wading through these confusing waters where two different lives feel good. Kyle, being optimistic, says we're lucky to have two different lives that we're comfortable in, but of course it's that they're two different lives we're torn between. And like other points that we've had to make decisions or felt suspended between two places, we ask our selves our 30 year question - When we look back in 30 years, will we be be happy with our decisions? As far as we can see now. On one hand, we've have incredible experiences and built great bonds being together on the road; on the other we've missed a lot of quality time and milestones with family & friends back home.
It seems impossible to get everything we want in life, but we're at least going to try.