Despite the threat of rain and the gray clouds hanging low to our heads, Katie and I have no problem dipping into the luxurious pool at Rachamankha on my first full day at the property. It’s east coast hot and humid.

“What’s your plan?” Katie asks me as we cool our bodies in the water. She’d surprised me a week earlier, when I first arrived to Chiang Mai and was suffering from jet lag. But, our relationship extends back a year earlier, when I was in Sarajevo and in need of help, in need of a friend.

Blinking the water from my eyelashes, I slick my hair back, and look at her.

My plan?

I have no idea.

In an instant, I stammer. One of my best travel friends in the universe has caught me off-guard. Called me out on all of my talk of travel and not staying in one place in a conventional lifestyle.

“D, you say you don’t want to stay in Vegas, so what’s your plan?”

I don’t know.

I falter.

“To move to Thailand, I guess,” I throw out.

My new home?

After all, I knew when I booked my trip to Thailand, I wasn’t just going to volunteer with the elephants. I was scouting Chiang Mai to see if it would make a suitable home.

At a quick few days into my time in the city, I wasn’t sold on it. But, I wasn’t writing it off, either.

“Well, when?”

I don’t know.

“I guess this winter?”

“OK, good.”

“I guess …”

“D, what’s stopping you?” Katie asks, hinting at frustration.

“My cats … money …”

“Those are just excuses.”

I blink. She’s right and I know it.

What IS stopping me?

I don’t have an answer.

“Well, I’m going to say this. If you want to go, you should go. Figure your shit out and leave Vegas. I don’t know why you stay there anyway. It’s not you.”

And, I know she’s right.

For the next four days, I wander through Chiang Mai. Exploring. Getting lost. Trying to imagine myself living in this city.

Could this be my home?

I try to fall in love with the town. To see what other ex-pats see when they come through here.

But, the town isn’t what really calls to me. It’s the elephants.

On my last night, when one of the volunteers gives me a hug goodbye, she whispers in my ear: “I hope all of your dreams come true.”

My eyes water as I whisper goodbye to her and I sit there. Dumbfounded.

Everything isn't always illuminated ...

What are my dreams these days?

Hours before I depart back to Las Vegas, it’s rainy (as per usual) and I’m not looking forward to the long-haul flight back to America. Lucy, the last remaining volunteer in Chiang Mai, and I, head out to help me find a ride back to the airport.

When I convince a tuk tuk driver to drop me for 70 baht, we say our goodbyes and I hop into the open-backed vehicle. As we drive past the moat, the sky opens more, pelting my face with sideways rain.

Like I had done in the pool a few days early, I blink the water away, looking out. Concentrating. Trying … trying so hard … to figure out the next steps in my life.

As I board the flight to Bangkok, I look out towards the lush green mountains shrouded in clouds.

This isn’t the last time I will be in Chiang Mai.

I don’t know anything other than that.

But, I suppose, that’s a good a start as any.

 

32 comments

    1. Oh my gosh — even today when I think of those words, I get really emotional. It was one of the most beautiful and meaningful things anyone could ever say to me.

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  1. I love this story and the way you tell it. “What’s stopping you” can be one of the toughest questions to honestly answer. I think a lot of times it’s just fear. At least that’s the way it is for me.

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    1. Thank you, Christy! Fear is definitely the root of what stops most people. It’s funny … the longer I held off making a decision, the more the little things began to dig into me. For example, I would just sit in my apartment and think how much I like it, and how I will miss it. Not a reason to stay put, but slowly, those little things began to hold me back. I think, aside from the fear, it is having the strength to overcome those little things and admit they don’t matter. And, the things that do matter … to look at it and wonder if it is worth the price to pay. I know, even now that I had made a decision, I look at my cats, my friends, my family, and feel so torn.

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  2. Traveling and making big changes is never easy, you will find your way and your places, I understand you need time to figure out what’s best for you, I’m in a kind of the same mood right now 😉

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    1. Oh goodness … this went on for months. I just haven’t published the posts yet. Nothing is harder than making that all important “next step” decision.

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  3. It’s great to have people who are on our wavelength who will challenge us and good advice like this — Even if it something we “know” and have no problem encouraging others about, when it comes to ourselves, the unknown is scary…yay. I’m sure it will be a fabulous experience for you!

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  4. Totally! All great adventures start with a dream (or idea). When the time is right, you’ll feel it. At least your not just sitting around waiting for something to happen. You are actually out there looking at the alternatives and seeking out what is best for you. So glad for that.

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  5. The good thing is, even if you decide to move there and eventually realize it’s not for you, you can change your mind and go somewhere else. You’re not stuck. That’s what the decision to quit your job was about, right? More flexibility, more freedom, being your own boss.

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    1. Absolutely! There is such a beauty in not being stuck!! Yes, ultimately, the reason I quit my job was because I wanted to be in control and work for myself. I have found out I don’t enjoy working for other people.

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  6. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “”I’ll let you know if I ever grow up.”

    Bah, it is all a bit random and a bit getting stuck in the system on how life seems to run. Make decisions and you are ahead of most that choose not to.

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  7. I can definitely relate to you on this one. I’ve been in the process of making a change for almost a year now and it is not easy to make those big moves. (I’m an American living in Sweden with an Australian husband and we are trying to decide where to go next!) Best of luck to you on your journey.

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