These past few days have been something of a blur as I have struggled to orient myself back into this timezone and continue to fight off not feeling well, so I'm sorry to have not posted again right away! But here now, I've just slept 10 hours straight and feel much more rested at this moment.
Homecomings, no matter where to, are always strange but lovely things. It has been good to be back here; to fall asleep again on my porch; to walk to work; to laugh with my colleagues; to reunite with my car and the power to take myself wherever I will and whenever. Even just to have again my phone and my computer: to experience here the joy of the possessive, because this is my current home rather than a past one which I am returning to find if I am still welcome.
Barely a week before leaving, I was asked over a lunch which I preferred--the local life here or the international world. It was hard to answer, because after all, this local life here is my continuing choice; but the international world is one which I perpetually miss. So I finally (I say "finally" as my mind raced through so many thoughts to answer, but really, it was probably the breadth of a few seconds) said I thought I still preferred the international world. It is, after all, the whole of my world until these last few years of discovering this other sphere of living, and as such, a much more comfortable place for me to exist in (comfort zone!) than this local world where the roots actually run vertically rather than horizontally.
The interesting thing is, I don't know if I could answer that question the same now, just a month later. I wish we could repeat that lunch and I could muse my way through the differences. Perhaps if I could have said with certainty before leaving that I preferred the international world, then my choice would not have changed. I wonder if such certainty would not have spelled the failure of my experiment here in this local world, though--expressing a stubbornness to allow for something else to genuinely be experienced; to truly compete.
I find coming back--I found whilst on my travells--that I am incredibly proud of the life I have slowly been carving out for myself here. I am very proud of the fact that I have been able to find the courage and strength to stay in a world that is so foreign to me, and am delighted on my return here how happy I am to embrace it all again. The thing is, in the whole of this world, there are two ways you can live: either as an international or as a local. Living here, I've been asked so many times why do I live here and not somewhere else, when I am indeed one who could simply live anywhere. Anywhere in the whole world! What a deliciously enormous backyard to just step out into and play in.
Here is a response I wrote to it once--
They do not know when they
ask me, why on earth I live among
them. They do not know this
question is absurd. Why, of all
the earth, do I live in their tiny
when I could live there. Somewhere
else. That exotic-sounding far away vision
they carry in their minds; they might
one day visit on a holiday; they would visit
if they could leave their locality; they do not
even know how to imagine.
They do not know when they
ask me, why on earth I live in this here when
I could live in that far there.
They can never understand that
wherever you live is always a here, and that
wherever I live people will always
wonder what I’m doing
Every place is, in the here-there
eventuality, simply another
--So here I am now, living currently in a place where of all the places in the world, I can find a way to slip into the locality of it instead of remaining in the international sphere alone. I find it, still, a fascinating experience. And my trip home to Europe, and then off to explore Thailand, has reassured me of the fact that no matter how locally I may come to live somewhere I will still always be myself, which is still an International. I don't have to fear losing that part of myself (which I love, this ability to dissolve into the whole of the world, to live anywhere in a satisfying way, to make meaningful connections with people no matter the who or where, and to step into so many different stories) by experiencing the depths of locality. So why not stay in a place where I can reach the deepest depth of locality for a while longer?
And perhaps really, in the end, the question isn't fair--this which do I prefer? Perhaps it can be both. And perhaps one can choose to stay and to go all at once.