I hate goodbyes, especially this one, and I never wanted to write this post because I never wanted to leave, but the time has come and I can’t pretend it hasn’t any longer. The move will be to Houston, TX, in early November. My email box is filling with neighborhood selection information, introductions to relocation agents, and guidance on getting Stella to the US. I've got my workhat on, but my heart's not in it. It's sad, a little exciting, but more than anything else, to be honest, I'm absolutely terrified.
These three years have been the most amazing years of my life and while I can’t fill my CV with most of it, I have actually evolved more here as a human being than I ever possibly would if I’d have stayed at home. I volunteered for causes I actually saw benefit from my contributions. I developed professional skills and learned how to get things done in a country that ranks in the world's bottom third when it comes to ease of doing business. I developed and maintained a website, something that challenged me technically and creatively. I embraced different cultures and religions. I gained a deeper understanding about relationships, love, and friendship, and my perspectives on many subjects have changed as a result. Though I didn’t find out the whole meaning of life, I certainly did learn that it’s not about the checklists we make in our brains, other people’s expectations, reciprocal relationships, or possessions. Now I understand why some people dedicate their entire lives to the search for enlightenment.
Expat life, if you ever get the opportunity, is a wild ride that I suggest you say “yes” to. I’ve never regretted a moment of it, bad or good, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It changes who you are, and it makes you dive into yourself. It’s ecstasy, tragedy, despair, wonder, hope, disappointment, discovery, and curiosity all rolled into one. It pushes your relationships, all of them. It forces you to get out into the world and explore. It enriches your skills in adaptation, problem-solving, communication, tolerance, and patience. At the end of it, if you are lucky, you come out with your sanity intact, a shipping container of treasures, and an external hard drive full of memories because your computer didn’t have enough space to store them on its own.
Along with my sanity (most of it, anyway) and treasures and memories, I’m leaving in a few short weeks with a resolve as well that this move will be a “see you later” and not a “goodbye”. I know this place is where I’m happiest and that some way, somehow, some day, I will find my way back to India. For now however, it's time to press “PAUSE”. I'm excited to get back to work, to take on new challenges, explore a new place, and maybe even to find something that will allow me to bridge both worlds.
I will continue the website of course and there will be plenty of things to write about: readjustment, the relocation process, re-entering the job market, and life in the US. I know that all the "re-"s will be tough, and if I can help anyone else through the experience by sharing mine, then that will be enough motivation for me.
I hope you'll come along with me for the new adventure!