My answer to “so where are you from?” never feels completely honest.
Seattle doesn’t quite work. I don’t live there anymore nor do I plan to in the near future. Alaska is suspicious. I haven’t lived there for longer than 6 months in almost eight years. And just responding generally with “the U.S.” is met with an “I’m not an idiot, I can tell by your nasal accent. I mean what state,” kind of look.
But regardless of where home actually is (and I suppose it’s a mix of all three answers mentioned above), I’m heading back. Today.
It’s an odd development. For quite awhile now, there was too much time between the present and the trip’s completion to mention an end date. Telling fellow backpackers I’m a spontaneous traveler on a ceaseless journey gains reactions that stoke any ego. Saying I’m headed home soon, on the other hand, is comparable to mentioning I’ve just gotten a pink slip. It spurs a cocktail of reactions including pity, sympathy, and a flash of “so you’re giving up then, huh?”
I’m unsure whether it’s the fact that I’ve been gone quite awhile or that I know my return is imminent, but if coming home is comparable to receiving a pink slip, I feel like the guy from Office Space: I’m thrilled. Part of that excitement lies in my future plans yet to come. It’s appearing more likely that, similar to 2017, 2018 will also keep me largely outside of the U.S.
Thailand’s last week:
Meet Taab. Taab, a Southern Thai woman around my age, is a former nationally recognized Thai tennis player. For some odd reason, she chose Anchorage, Alaska, as the location for an international high school exchange program in 2009 and 2010. We met then on a tennis court. Seven years later, Taab showed enormous hospitality by serving as Brooke and I’s tour guide to Krabi’s islands, hot springs, and white sand beaches.
After a magical last night swimming among luminescent plankton under a full moon, Brooke headed home and I flew to Bangkok.
While here in Bangkok, I’ve done little more than what has become my most common activity on the travel trail: read. In my seven months, I’ve gone through 52 books.
First Book of the trip: Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire, by Simon Baker
Last Book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
Worst Book: I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined), by Chuck Klosterman
Best Book: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anothony Doerr
So, I guess that’s it for the blog. I’d think up a better ending, but that would mean the travels are ending here…
Thanks for following along. While posting to the blog has at times felt like a nagging responsibility, in total, my writing has been a valuable academic exercise, a chirping reminder to lead a story-worthy life, and a necessary opportunity for introspection.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you soon.