My father and uncle, on the rare nights when they open up their Martin & old Gibson guitar cases, rattle through a repertoire of folksy and country songs. Rarely does anyone know all the words (Billy is the best contender for that prize) but generally enough of us know enough of the words to butcher any of about 3 dozen tunes. On the road again being one of the classics… Familiar yet unknown and therefore perfectly evocative of the nostalgic tug of home and magnetic draw of whatever comes next.
That’s the predominant emotional cocktail I have now. Reflective nostalgia coupled with that vibrating, yearning body sensation that tugs towards what’s next…
But before jumping headlong into the new chapter, I owe a few moments to a grateful inventory of the past eight (eight?!) months:
I came to Chaing Mai in mid-December with plans to stay about a month in order to start a daily yoga practice. Back then, I thought a month was a long time to rest my laurels in one place…
Flash forward to mid-July and northern Thailand is my home and become a refuge. It has provided fertile ground for personal rediscovery and play: ultimately joyous, heartfelt living. I feel blessed that I now have a community here and some very good friends, even a new best friend to add to the mix. I’ve been on meditation retreats, become a reiki 2 practitioner, luxuriated in countless massages, cuddled with elephants, learned to confidently captain a motorbike, birthed a cow (well, not personally but you know what I’m saying…), gotten in touch with my inner goddess, practically adopted a dog (or 3), and found deep reserves of inner resiliency and even gentleness.
I’ve read up a storm (20+ books), re-established regular drawing, painting and creative endeavors, managed to pull off 5 steps on a slack line (aka tightrope walk) and learned the precious skill of sitting and watching the sunrise.
I’ve been on antibiotics 3 times, battled off a respiratory infection, taken conventional medicine and traditional medicine to treat a black cutaneous fungal infection, had 2 atrocious haircuts, 2 decent & 1 amazing trim, swam under the starts, aided a woman with a broken rib off a mountain, crossed 4 international borders and racked up a couple hundred ant & mosquito kills. I helped organize and promote a community festival, conceived of and proposed a 4 day solstice festival, filled 3 notebooks with writing that will never see the light day, taken (& edited) 100s of photos, led laughter yoga classes. I have the stamina to do 3 hours of vinyasa yoga and sit peacefully for 40 minutes in meditation. I’ve eaten papaya, mango, avocado, passion fruit, or lychee everyday. I’ve received three care packages, sent 2. I’ve not eaten enough cheese but have enjoyed generous rations of snickers. I’ve had precisely three full English breakfasts (in a row) but regrettably no Portland brunches.
I’ve found a more enduring place of self-love and outward acceptance than ever before. I’ve enjoyed rendezvous with friends from many stages of my life (USN elementary school, 2x University of Oregon, Timbers Army, and Barcelona/Kiwi travel friend) and will soon be welcoming a nearest & dearest from the Portland Ladies’ Night core. I 1:1 complemented the prime minister of Malaysia on his singing and co-celebrated December birthdays with a soulsista and bona fide professional troubadour. I can invert myself on head, shoulder or forearms and have friends with no less than 20 different passports (or more). My own passport now bulges with 48 blank pages. I’ve had 20 or fewer drinks this entire year and definitely less than 5 hamburgers. Ice creams? At least 75, easy. Done two photoshoots. Watched 4 full seasons Nashville, House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire & Enlightenment. Oh, and I hippo burped at me.
During the course of my 8 months of travel I’ve become closer than ever with my parents. I miss my grandmother terribly–but know she is astoundingly happy and getting younger by the day. Reconnected with a best childhood friend. Missed the wedding of another childhood BFF and shared in engagement celebration of a High school best friend. Via Skype I watch my friend’s little child turn into a boy and observe the change of the Portland seasons through her living room window. I have 2 new tattoos but (as far as I can tell) no new scars. The Portland Timbers are having a kick ass season–and my Internet connection is predictably so lousy I can only read the about highlights, never actually view the video.
My bank account is starting to make me nervous and contemplate financial strategies but my credit card balance slowly diminishes.
I no longer have a childhood home. My parents moved away from the only family home I’ve ever known–and I applaud them for their decision to do so.
I’m authentically laughing, opening my heart, experiencing each day anew and with a broad smile.
The above is an inventory I’m very proud of but even more grateful for. I feel very blessed to have the steady support of friends and family while I live out a pseudo-expat existence. Maintaining and growing friendships while far far away is what I am most humbled by. I feel incredibly lucky to be only 28 and have this much freedom, particularly from work obligations.
Thank you for blessing me.
Apologies for the lack of formatting or photos–using an iPhone for this post while waiting for this train to switch engines…