You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave.
A going away party in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I’m sitting at BKK and have started and stopped writing this post about ten times.
I’m not sure what I want to say. Maybe because I’m not sure how, exactly, I feel right now.
I’ve been traveling for the past fifteen months. And, today, I go home.
It simultaneously feels like decades since I’ve seen Chicago, and like I was just there yesterday.
Two weeks before I left on this ’round the world trip I wrote an article for Meet, Plan, Go! (the company I now work for). Sherry emailed me the link on my last day and asked me to re-read it and see how far I’ve come.
What really stuck out to me though was how I felt, because it’s the same way I feel now: It’s not me who is going home. I am watching someone else go home.
Sure I cried at the karaoke bar last night. Sure I cried on and off all morning, saying goodbyes to friends, saying goodbye to my precious kitten while for some reason singing to him “there are no cats in America.”
But It doesn’t feel like anything is changing. But it also feels like everything is changing.
The idea of Chicago right now is so surreal. On one hand it’s familiar, on another strange. I am excited to go back. I want to see my nephews. I want to see my friends. I want to eat at all the restaurants I’ve never been to and do all the things there I’ve never done. It’s also helped me that Sean will be there, and it will be nice to have someone there who I met on my travels, someone who is new to the city and may want to do more exploring than anyone else I know.
And I plan to spend my two months there doing things off my life list and in my life that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m signing up for guitar lessons. I’m going to go to the top of the Hancock tower. I’m going to eat massive amounts of pizza.
But, at the same time, I’m sad.
I’ve been in Asia since November of last year. I’ve been here nearly eleven months. I love it here. And now I’m going back to a world where I can flush my toilet paper and take a shower without the fear of getting electrocuted and where pad thai costs eight dollars instead of one.
Other than a few day detour to Bangkok, I’d spent the last month in Chiang Mai. Part of me had thought I should do something epic, go somewhere new, lay on a beach and tan. But, when I got back I didn’t have a desire to leave. The city, and my hostel there, have become a home away from home.
And I will miss everyone there dearly. I could have stayed for much longer. But I also felt like I was getting too complacent in Thailand.
I didn’t leave home to find home, I left home to see the world. And I need to make myself change course and find a new adventure. I need to get out of Asia and see Latin America.
I need to. For me.
Because, truthfully, I still have no idea what I want from this world. And I hope that some day it will all click, come together.
What I do know is that I miss everyone from home. And I do know I will miss everyone in Chiang Mai.
But, for now, I’ll say goodbye to Thailand, to my hostel, to my friends, to my family. And I’ll say hello to Chicago, to my apartment, to my friends, to my family.
See you again soon.