Curled up in my lap, light blue eyes heavy with sleep, Jagger barely whispers to me, “will you bring my back a coconut to drink from?”
I fight tears as I twirl his blonde shaggy hair between two of my fingers.
“Absolutely,” I promise, even though I know there’s no way I am going to be able to leave Thailand with a coconut. I promise myself to figure it out before I come back to Las Vegas.
As his eyes close, sadness washes over me.
It’s not the first time I’ve felt like this since I’ve made my decision to become an expat.
I don’t want to leave him, or his eight-year-old brother, Presley, or his mother (and one of my closest friends in the world), Kyla. They are my Las Vegas family. And leaving them makes my heart hurt in that way impending loss just aches through your entire body.
When I come home, Jez greets me on the stairs, meowing a conversation to me. She neck-dives into the carpet, turning up her chest for me to scratch. Then, Keeley, the cat I’ve had since 2007, comes down, too. Meowing her approval at my return.
It’s gotten worse lately with the cats. It’s almost as if they sense I am leaving. That I am passing them along to a new home, and the bond we have created, the relationship we have, will cease in a few short weeks.
That tears my heart into shreds.
Even sitting on my couch, taking stock of my Las Vegas life, my gorgeous condo I rent, the paintings that hang on my walls … the life I have here … it makes my head swirl with doubt. With second thoughts.
Am I really ready to exchange this for a new life?
I knew when I returned to Las Vegas it wouldn’t be forever. This is my home, but it isn’t the place I want to live right now.
I know very well that my future does not lie in the southwest desert.
But, as I sit, nearing my last weeks in this town, in this life, I wonder to myself if I really know what it is I am doing.
Within a matter of weeks, my life has changed entirely. I have accepted a position with Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. I have quit my job and gone into business for myself. I have gotten a non-immigrant visa to live in Thailand for one year.
Life changes oh so quickly.
And now … I am leaving the life I have lived since November 2010. Since returning from my long-term travels. I knew this life was not permanent. But suddenly, it’s just so hard to say “goodbye.”
When I left to go on my travels in 2010, I didn’t feel like this. I knew I would be back. I knew it was temporary. This is, too. But, it feels far more permanent. Maybe it is because I am getting older. Maybe it is because I know in the next few years I want kids, and by leaving, by uprooting my life once again, it means I am still as far aways as ever from that goal.
Does it delay me from the inevitable growing up? Or, is this my grown-up life? Where nothing is permanent? Where I live my dreams but at a price of not ever having a truly stationary existence?
The other day at lunch, an editor asked me where I saw myself in five years. I looked at her, dumbfounded.
Five years? I can hardly imagine five months.
The truth is, I don’t know what I want for my future.
Nor do I know the extent of what I want to give up.
Leaving Las Vegas this time is bittersweet. I leave all of my loves behind. My best friends. My cats. My life. And, a few weeks after I leave Las Vegas, I leave my parents, my brother, my niece …
And I exchange it for something brand new. And entirely different. And beautifully wonderful.