My little cottage in Negril – Jamaica
Is home where you were born, where you choose to be, or is it where you end up out of circumstance – graduate school, kids, family, comfort?
It’s a question that’s haunted me since I moved to the US for college. I’d ended up in Washington DC. My dad had a house there and a new job. So the family followed him, just like we did to Cote d’Ivoire and England. I was under 18; it was a given.
At 20, I started wondering – where is home for me? I didn’t pay much more attention to it until ten years later.
When you leave your native country at nine months, it’s hard to tell where home is. When you end up in a city because you went to college there and because it’s where your loved ones are, it’s hard to justify the need to leave.
When you start traveling and being a nomad for half the year, it becomes even more nebulous.
For those with a spouse or children, it seems easier to pinpoint a place called “home” (for most).
But when you’re solo, you’ve always loved travel, and you’ve figured out ways to fund those travels, the world is your oyster. Not a complaint, but it can be overwhelming. The choices are infinite. From Indonesia to India or even Ethiopia.
This year, my goal is to plan for my desire to leave Washington DC and live overseas year-round. It’s one I’ve had for too long already.
So, what country calls my name?
Since my return, I’ve been meditating, praying. I’m more present and observant in my day-to-day, because signs are everywhere. I watch where my attention is grabbed and what pulls my heart. As much as I’ve loved visiting Belize and Jamaica for winters, they didn’t grab me enough to pack up and move permanently.
What are the other choices? All the “relatively-stable” countries in Africa, Asia, Australia… or there’s South America.
When I read about folks who have packed up and moved to far-flung places like South Korea or Japan – there seem to be more and more each day – I feel my body shift back in a sort of unease. And yet, my mind tells me it could be a huge learning experience. To conquer that level of culture shock would make me a stronger person.
As much as you all think I’m brave, I have fears. Fear of moving to a country where the language is made up of symbols I can’t read. Fear of being too far away from my aging parents and my nieces and nephews. But fear of regrets too – and one day feeling a loss that I didn’t explore the opportunity to be an expat year-round at at time when I was free to do so.
Recently I attended Chris Guillebeau‘s $100 start up book tour in Washington DC. I’ve been following his brilliant blog, the “The Art of Non-Conformity” for three years and I’ve always found him inspiring. At the meet up, while in line to get my autographed copy, I met a fascinating Japanese lady. She gets to travel with her professor-husband and works remotely as a writer wherever he teaches – from Rome to Vancouver. Talk about a sweet life. But no, she wanted to hear all about my transition since I left my full-time legal job.
Happy to gab about my adventures, I mentioned along the way that I had downsized my life in the US over the years. I got rid of “stuff” and recently, I sold my car. Of all the things I mentioned, selling the car is what made her gasp. “Wow that’s huuuuuge!” she said. I was silent for a couple of seconds. She was right, that was huge. It was a commitment to my dream of living abroad and living a simpler life. It then hit me that over the past three years, I had faced multiple mini-fears head on and conquered them because I just did, I didn’t think or dwell. Like selling my car, a snazzy black BMW which at one time I loved dearly – after all, we were together for 10 years. But I was no longer attached to things and after all my lifetime travels, I knew that happiness comes from experiences and not objects (except I do love my camera gear, let’s not get that twisted).
So while I spend the next three months deciding on the “where” of my big move for 2013, do feel free to help me conquer analysis-paralysis (I still suffer from that as a lawyer). You can share your thoughts on where I should live in the comments below – whether it’s a country or a continent. I may even have a guest posts or two from fellow bloggers who have lived abroad. At this point, I’m absorbing all good information.
Where will my new home be?