ONE WHOLE YEAR.
How is that even possible?
Part of me feels like I’ve been back for much longer than that. And the other part of me is like, “What? A year? Where did the year go? Is there someone I can call to find out where my year went?”
I suspect all the cheese I’ve been eating has put me into some kind of weird time warp.I know what you’re going to ask me now.
I know because I’ve been asked the same question approximately fifty-bajillion times over the past year:
“Where to next?”
My response to this question is usually something along the lines of: “Umm, err, probably… Well. Lemmesee. I’m really not sure, but I was thinking… Maybe, I’ll… Hey, wait, is that cheese over there?”
And then I run away. Preferably with some cheese in hand.
I’d like to think this response seems coy. If mildly cheese-obsessed. Like, I really do know where I am going next, but I just want to keep everyone in suspense for the fun of it.
But the truth is that until about seven days ago, I had no idea where my next move would be.
And, then, last week I accepted a new job in new city, and I’ll be moving there in two weeks.
You’re excited, right?
You’re probably all like, “Omigod, I can’t wait until she tells me where she’s going! I’m sure it’s some place super exotic.” (Unless you’re on my Facebook, in which case you totally know where I’m going next, so you’re probably all like, “JESUS, WOMAN, CAN YOU GET TO THE POINT ALREADY?”)
Let’s just say that where I’m moving sounds really exotic. I have no idea if it is exotic or not as I’ve never actually been there.
Are you ready?
Because you might want to sit down.
You may even need a strong drink for this. In fact, I think I might need a strong drink. I’ll wait while you pour.
Okay, okay, I’ll get to the point already.
I’m moving to….
See, I told you it sounded exotic.
I’m sure that’s not quite the kind of exotic you were expecting.
Heck, it’s not even the kind of exotic I was expecting.When I left Asia a year ago, my plan was not to stay in the States for very long – maybe a year or two — just long enough to hang out with my family and eat forty pounds of cheese. And then I’d apply for another overseas job and be out of here.
I almost did just that.
In the spring, I told all my supervisors at work that I was going to start applying for overseas jobs. I looked at a few job postings. I Google-searched a whole bunch of countries to figure out if I wanted to move there and how I could get my hands on some cheese if I did.
And then I did nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing.
I explored Buffalo and went to all those places I told myself I was always going to go to when I used to live here and never did.
I went on a few road trips, including that one where I drove fifty-billion miles by myself through the Midwest and Ontario, and then I never told you about it, but it was awesome, and I should really probably tell you about it sometime.
I hung out with a lot of old friends – you know, the kind of friends you haven’t seen in years but it doesn’t matter because you just pick up where you last left off – basically wearing goofy glasses and drinking way too much alcohol.
I hung out with my family and ate a lot of pie.
You see, the other question I hear almost as much as “Where to next?” is “Do you miss it?”
I’ve never been entirely sure what “it” means.
Is “it” China? Japan? Asia in general? Living abroad? Working abroad? Traveling? Easy access to dumplings?
Whatever “it” is, I feel like I should miss it.
I really want to miss it.
But the truth is: I don’t.
At least, not yet. Or, at least, not enough to make me want to do it again right now.
I don’t miss having to buy men’s shoes and never ever being able to buy pants.
I don’t miss the regular respiratory infections I used to get in China.
I don’t miss living with my coworkers or having ambiguous discussions with my work supervisors, where I’m not entirely sure what is being said to me, but I’m pretty sure I’m in trouble.
I don’t miss being a million-billion miles away from my family and oldest friends and always missing holidays and birthdays and weddings and other life events.
I don’t miss a lot of things I never really wrote about on this blog and don’t care to write about now because that’s how much I really don’t miss them.
And I don’t miss traveling.
Because the thing is, guys, I’ve been traveling more in the past year than I probably did in the entire time I was in China. Sure, road trips to the Midwest may not sound all that exotic. But who needs exotic when you have the WORLD’S BIGGEST CINNAMON ROLL? Seriously.This is not to say I’m not completely, one-hundred-percent grateful for the five and a half years that I spent in Asia.
I am grateful for the job opportunities which were given to me.
I am grateful for my neighbors in Japan and China who would stop and wave at me during my morning runs.
I am grateful for all the friends that I made in Asia.
And this is not to say that I don’t miss things about my life there.
I miss my sunny little apartment and my cute little neighborhood in Japan.
I miss all my beautiful local parks in China.
I miss being able to walk or take public transportation everywhere.
And, yes, I miss easy access to dumplings.
But I’ve realized the things I really miss the most – having an active social life, feeling like I’m part of a community, living in my own little place, being able to get around a bit easier and not having to drive a car everywhere – are not exactly location specific.
I could find those things in Taiwan or Thailand or Timbuktu.
Or, say, Kalamazoo.
So that’s the plan, guys.
At least for the next little while — you know, until I miss it.
Or until I decide that a copious supply of cheese and the World’s Biggest Cinnamon Roll aren’t enough to keep me in one place. (Ha! Who am I kidding? Like, that’s ever going to happen.)Have you ever made a major life decision that really surprised people — even you? What was it?