Chapter 2: Settling In

I used the wire hangers already there. Last week, I moved into a studio apartment in Chiang Mai where some things had been left behind by the previous tenant. The “American me” would have bought new hangers — the fancy kind with the little grooves for strappy shirts. The new me doesn’t want to spend the money on something I can live without. In fact, the new me is a little sad to even take the clothes out of the backpack and hang them to begin with! It feels like something has ended. Every purchase of household goods further seals my decision. To stay in one place. To be a resident.

My clothes, hanging.
My clothes, hanging.

But this is not doom! Chiang Mai is a wonderful city. And I’ve hardly invested what most would consider a significant amount (just a deposit, some dishes, and bed sheets). So why do I feel reluctant? This was, in fact, what I hoped for all along… A city where I could live happily for less money and have more time to do the things I love. A place for the real story to begin, not taper off.

A possible explanation: I went from a community of many (myself plus all other travelers) to a community of one (me). Building a social community takes time. And effort. In your 30s, you can’t just walk into a room of people and start asking, “Do you want to be my friend?” (Well, I suppose you could, but they would probably think you were coo-coo or soliciting!)

In contrast, the travel community is intoxicating… It’s full of tan, beautiful free spirits in deep search of meaning in their lives. They do yoga, play guitar, and sport the sexiest dreadlocks and ponytails. They write. They paint. They invite you join them for whatever escapades are available near said hostel in said city.  Other travelers are instantly your friends because you are one and the same. Adrift. In the moment.

Shit. I just realized that I stepped out of a beautifully flowing current. (I didn’t even realize I was on it until I stepped out.) And I guess I have a little buyer’s remorse. Maybe I should have backpacked for 3 more months? Or indefinitely? It was a tough decision. But a decision I made for good reasons. To be focused. Find a way to balance work with hobbies. Absorb a new culture fully, not just be a tourist in it. And, let me not forget, to meet people that I don’t have to say goodbye in a number of days.

Deep breathe. This is just the first page of chapter two. The friends will come. The flow will come. And the adventures don’t stop here. Moreover, now that I know about that mystical current of travelers, I plan to hop on it and off it a lot more often!

So here I am. Me and my MacBook Air. He’s reminding me about that book I said I would write once I got here and “settled in” (and silently scolding me for downloading more Game of Thrones ☹). It looks like it is time to pay my debts…

2 thoughts on “Chapter 2: Settling In

  1. Sounds like my little girl has opened her eyes to the real World. Or is it the New Millennial? Either way I am very proud of you for still some what being that little girl. We love you Sweetie.

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