Lesson #18: We all need a hug from home once and a while

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Back to Bangkok. Last time I was here I was a member of an eighty person orientation of new teachers, all of us fresh from the islands, our concept of Thailand miniscule. This time I am here for a very different reason, to pick up my Mom, stepping freshly into the role of host. As I search through the hoards of travelers for her familiar face it hits me for the first time since arriving here. I live in Thailand.

I live in Thailand.

I live in Thailand.

Obvious to my friends and family back home, obvious to all of you reading this blog, but reality has changed for me since I arrived. Moments seem fleeting, people are temporary, situations are often so far from my norm that they get cataloged in a new part of my brain. Sometimes I find myself wondering who I have become in this seemingly fictitious land. Perhaps I myself have simply become a character in this multi layered story, blindly following the ever changing subplots.

As time continues on I expect to gain a better sense of self, but I do not. This experience has floated through me, over me, and run circles around me.  So distant are the qualifiers that once identified me: athlete, student, toy store clerk. The people in my life have shifted too, their backgrounds, personalities, and interests radically different from the general persona of my previous surroundings. The longer I am here the more undefined I become. My American perceptions of self melting away, my reality in Thailand undemanding of labels.

I find my Mother’s face amongst the foreigners. Reality rushes in. As a piece of home walks up and gives me a huge hug I feel grounded in a way that I haven’t since I arrived here. Grounded as I feel the weight that this experience has carried finally flood me. Grounded as I am reminded of all that still exists outside of Thailand. Grounded as the moments from the past six months shift into stories. Grounded as I undoubtedly realize I am still me. I have changed but I am no different. The me that I clung to was arbitrary, what existed underneath the explanation of myself was much more accurate. And that is what remains.

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