Saturday, February 14, 2015

Departure, Farewell and Liberation- Saying Goodbye Again

After almost two years of living in Chiang Mai, I'm saying goodbye once again. It's been a great and liberating experience for me to come back to the city I grew up in. I've loved reconnecting with Thailand while also experiencing a very different side of it through my time in it's education system. While the job wasn't always easy, I grew from it and for perhaps the first time in my life I feel a strong sense of confidence and assurance. It wasn't until my last few days on the job in late January that I realized how far I had come since those chaotic first few days of trying to reign in the first graders. It wasn't as I wound up my time at PRC that I saw how well I could deal and manage thirty eight little kids. As I hugged half a dozen 1/10 kids for the last time, trying my best to soothe a few red and teary eyes, I saw how much I meant to some of these children.

 While it's been hard to say goodbye once again, to the school, to the kids, to my hometown and the people I've gotten to know here I don't feel bad about it. I don't feel sadness or reluctance to depart. I'm certain that it's time for me to go. I'm looking forward to my future studies and the new frontiers I'll be opening up in the US. I'm also looking towards what comes after. To teaching jobs in schools across the globe and the realization that my time back in Thailand has helped lay the foundation for what comes next.

 Not only do I feel hopeful but, more importantly, I feel liberated. From what, you might ask? From myself.

 When I came back to Thailand in 2013 I was returning for two reasons. First, I wanted to reconnect with my hometown after seven years of being away. Second, and just as important as the first, I wanted to jump into a new field 'teaching' and in the process hopefully discover a new sense of purpose and center my life once again.

 It was very important to me to find a new life for myself, especially after I reluctantly left Egypt due to visa issues and a ton of personal hardship and heartache.

 In sum, I came back to look for something new amongst the familiar. After such a long passage of time the city was very different. It had ballooned in size. New malls were everywhere. Areas far out from the center of the town which had been empty when I left in 06 were now covered with trendy cafes and upscale shops. Most of the people I had known had departed as well. I made new friends though, and I made a new life.

 Living here as an adult, I dealt with the first time with adult problems. I paid rent and dealt with traffic and commutes. As an adult, my life in Chiang Mai was completely different.

 Yet the easy going spirit of he city remained the same. The hospitality and flexibility of Thai culture remained unchanged and there were just as many if not more open minded ex-pats to help open windows to new frontiers.

 Discovering that the home of yesteryear was gone did not make me despair. Instead, I reforged myslef with new steel with an old hammer and anvil.

 That in and of itself makes me feel deeply accomplished.

 I am now liberated. Now that I know for sure the world I knew is gone. Now that I know I've been able to build a new house on it's foundations. I know I can make a home anywhere. Wherever my soul feels like flying to.

 I've lived the ex-pat life and I will continue to live it. I've called many different places home from New York to Kansas, from Cairo to Chiang Mai. There is no other way I would choose to live. 

  In every place I've gone parts of me are deposited locked away in a metaphorical bank box waiting to be opened if I ever choose to set foot there again. And yet I'vee taken as much as I've given. The part you leave creates a vacant space and that hole is filled in by the place you've been. As such, you also take a part of each world you visit with you.

 I am taking Chiang Mai with me, as I've always done. And I am so grateful to have been able to come back and love it one more time.

 Much Love, Now and Always


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