I haven't even been here for a month and I'm already in a different world.
From the minute we stepped off the plane into Europe, we considered what we would do with our lives when we got "back to reality". No, we talked about that from day one. Before we ever left for Thailand, we wanted to cover our bases on the matter of what we need to do with our "real lives" when we returned back to the United States. There are so many things expected of us: Two college grads. Intelligent. Audacious. Full of potential. We can't just float off onto another side of the world without any regard for what comes after, right? Well, I'm still trying to figure that one out. What does, in fact, come after?
If the purpose of my leaving was to witness all of the challenges, excitement and enlightenment that comes with experiencing a new way of looking at and living within the world...how do I embrace this new life? Where do I find purpose? What drives me? I am more than I was before this. I believe that and know that for certain. I have come more into my own and I know myself better. But now, when I look at my options, I find myself feeling stuck. Isn't that funny? Walking along the streets of any town in a country I do not belong to feels more comforting than lying in my bed in the house I grew up in. That sense of opportunity...of rebirth. Like anything from the past which changed you in a way you can't take back is somehow unimportant and you have the chance to start life as though you've just started living it. How can a person not possibly desire that feeling?
I look back at photos from a time I know to be difficult and frustrating...so foreign from my understanding...and I somehow want some part of it back. I'll clarify: I don't want to teach again. I would never take that time in my life back, but I have gained as much as I needed/wanted from that experience. I don't want to pretend, like so many, that my life was so fabulous that all I had to fucking do was throw on a cartoon (take Mr. Bean) for my kids and day-dream about my next jaunt to my weekend island destination. That was not my reality as a teacher in Thailand. I don't want to live as a nomad, either, roaming from place to place, with no sense of home whatsoever. Why couldn't I just be like the most of you and choose either side: the wandering, adventurer's lifestyle or the house with the kids, dog, and steady job that pays the bills. I don't intend to make it so black and white but where do us stuck in the middle go?
There are so many things I believe I could do well with in this world. Most of all, I just want to lead a life full of happiness and laughter. Anyone can simplify their needs down to this, I'm sure. But coming from the past 6 months...I'm finding myself re-acclimating in a different way than I had originally expected. I thought I would be correcting my hands from using spoon and fork to eat each meal. I thought I would be checking my purse twice before realizing the empty space doesn't need a new refill of toilet paper. I thought I would be caught in thought...deciding whether the word I was looking for was, in fact, English, or some odd configuration of a foreign word I had become so accustomed to. No. This is not it. I am finding that my original way of understanding, responding, reflecting and taking action in my world (before Thailand) to be somehow altered from how I operate now. My goals have changed. I don't want to give into what everybody is telling me. I don't want to beat out all of my "competitors" in the job world. I just want to be myself. Is life supposed to be this ridiculously aggressive and calculated? I don't want to hate on my own country but I'm very frustrated and disappointed with my lack of new-found appreciation for America. When I left, I thought I would be gone for over a year. I thought I would be coming back here with a new-found sense of pride and excitement for my homeland and all that it would hold for me and Stephen. Instead, I left one country (Thailand) where I found myself appreciating America in a new way....to Europe, where I once again found myself disgusted by it.
I held my tongue, for the sake of maintaining my position and sanity within Anuban Khon Kaen School for 4 months, but here...I have nothing to lose. I am not giving into this. If my choices in life look irresponsible or undirected to you, I don't care. Have you ever stopped to think about what lies beyond your parents and friends expectations? Have you ever considered what other peoples of the world value in their lifetime? Don't you want to see how the other side lives? Do they spend any time mourning Twinkies when there are opportunities across the globe to distract them from one temporary facebook feed fad?! There are no perfect countries in this world...but don't be fooled to believe that America is closer than many others. We don't even know what our reason is anymore. We are worked hard until we die. Where does life take place? In a small amount of time, I have met friends from all over the world and their philosophy and zest for life is unmatched by the majority of Americans I have ever known. We forget what's really important when we're distracted by what everybody tells us to pay attention to. Well, I've remembered and I'm not going to forget.
You know what's also off? I have almost finished 2/3 of a Greenbush growler (1/2 gallon) which would be considered unheard of for a 110 lb girl like myself, for no good reason. Well, you know what? I don't care. This is the result of 1.) Unemployment, 2.) A restless mind and 3.) Look, if you haven't realized this by now...I love beer. Deal with it.
I share all of this with deliberate honesty. There are a lot of cute little bells and whistles I could decorate my story with but it would only be furthering me from my point. I'm not trying to impress anybody with my experiences traveling. I'm trying to find where I fit, now, that I'm back. So far, Michigan isn't cutting it. It didn't before I left and it isn't now. Sadly, moving on has been the name of the game for a long time, now, and I just hope that there are other people who are out there to inspire and reignite this flame. If you hear this, let me know!