Oh, hi.

So it’s been a while… like a year and a half or so, but I’m hanging in here – until recently, like the last month or so, I would have added “barely” to that statement.  I feel like I’ve been hibernating and it’s now time for spring to get here.

I’ve got lots of reasons for my absence, but the biggest one is I don’t know how many ways I could say I just can’t function or even more, I don’t have the words to explain why I couldn’t function.

In the past 18 months…

I returned to America.  Not by choice, but at, what I do think, was a good time for our family.  And turns out many people had expectations of what this would mean and I found that very overwhelming so I responded in ways that could and did damage relationships.

I got a part-time job at World Market – great store, but also overwhelming to work retail at the holidays.

Then I spent Thanksgiving with my immediate family.   Michael arranged for Chan and Aly to make it to Colorado.  And there were friends there.  It was good. It was probably the first big positive in our return.

15123023_10154052639308085_6779156447908250795_o

And somewhere in this time, I discovered that I brought a great big ol’ helping of social anxiety with me when I returned to America.  I don’t know where or when I picked it up, but man I caught a massive case of it and it seems like it might be a permanent part of who I now am.

Christmas came.  Parts of Christmas were good.  When we heard we’d be returning to America I thought a few of the positives that would come with that would be time with friends and time with family.  We had a great Christmas with some awesome friends.

15626250_10154145925328085_4443970487057996818_o

We made it into the New Year – 2017, I was determined I would get things under control.  I didn’t.  But I didn’t give up.

In January of 2017, my older brother died.  It was devastating. Not because he died.  But because I’d wished him dead for many, many years and his death changed nothing other than to cause me more pain than he’d caused me while he was living.

The holidays were over, New Year was over.  I needed to do something that felt like forward motion so I got a job at Caption Call.  It was also part-time, so between my two part-time jobs, I had a full-time job.  And what’s the best thing to do when you have two part-time jobs? Find a temporary full-time job.  A temporary full-time job that is a Monday – Friday kind of job.   The kind of job that makes you quit your two part-time jobs.

In March of 2017, I started working at Compassion International.  Yes, the same place that Michael works.  The reason we were in Asia.  It was just the kind of job I needed.  Set hours and responsibilities that didn’t extend past the hours I was required to be at work.  In May of 2017, I was able to turn my temp job into a permanent job.

About this time Sam came to us and wanted to know if his graduation trip could be to Thailand.  He’d taken his GED and passed with flying colors with college credits and all that jazz.  When Chan graduated we took a family trip to Japan.  When Aly graduated we took a family trip to New Zealand.  Sam wanted to return to Thailand to see his friends graduate high school.   Michael and I thought this was a great idea, but it couldn’t be a family trip.  Finances and jobs wouldn’t allow for it.  So it was a Sam and mom trip.  It was a healing trip.  It was the first time I heard Sam speak of Thailand as his home and not as a place he’d never wanted to live.  It gave him an opportunity for closure.  It also gave me an opportunity for closure.  I saw friends.  I made my way along roads that for years had been home for me.  I saw life had gone on without me.  And that it was okay.  I returned from Thailand knowing Thailand was no longer my home and recognizing that I hadn’t made a home in America, either.

Life was painful.  Interactions with people hurt.  And that makes life very difficult.  When you want to put your best foot forward and make a really good impression, but every single time you try you fail, it doesn’t make life easier.  It’s caused me to mess up relationships with some neighbors and to not even try to have relationships with other neighbors.  It caused me to mess up relationships with friends and it’s caused me to mess up relationships with family.   It’s hard to navigate life when you feel like with every hello you say you owe that person an apology.    And when you see all the failed relationships around you and you see that the common denominator of them all might be? could be? is?  you, it’s crushing.

But that’s where I am. And the funny thing is that I do feel like I’m turning a corner.  Every day no longer feels like a challenge. I don’t think the tension of finding my home will ever go away, but I now know that I can live with that tension and thrive in that tension.

28576590_10155303690933085_4973496523214772351_n

Michael W. Smith is an idiot

Pretty much every summer of my teen years was spent at youth camp. It wasn’t uncommon for camp to end with the song Friends by Michael W. Smith. Everyone cried and hugged and the feels were so real because goodbyes were so hard. And then we all saw each other again on Sunday at church. At that time I thought goodbye meant that summer camp was ending and we wouldn’t be eating s’mores together until summer camp next year. I had no idea that goodbye could mean it’s most likely we will never see each other again. Ever. But I’m beginning to realize that it does. And the goodbyes don’t stop. They don’t stop. They do not stop. Almost every day I say goodbye to someone. Yes, some of them I just met the same day, but I’m at the point that every hello is really just a trigger warning that a goodbye is coming.

 

making a home

one of the things i’m looking forward to in colorado is making a home for our family.

i currently have three things hanging on walls in my house and they are all in odd locations because that’s where the nail or screw just happened to already be and that got me thinking…

when we moved to thailand we assumed we’d be here a long time.  a really long time, but we’ve never had a timeline.  we didn’t really know how long we’d be here when we arrived and each year came with either the promise of another year or the threat that we could be moving.  that makes it hard to create a home.  i’ve never put a nail into a wall here.  if something happens to be hung it’s because there was already a nail in place to hold it.  for christmas decorations we used temporary tape type things.  nothing permanent.  nothing that left a hole that would require filling in when we left.  we’ve lived in three houses here and i’ve painted one room.  the kitchen in the current house.  but it still doesn’t feel like my kitchen.  it’s just a borrowed kitchen i’ve painted yellow.

a while ago (while i was cooking christmas dinner) michael and i had a fight over a ladle.  i was cooking and i commented that i would be glad to not see this particular ladle once we moved.  he said that we should take it with us, a new ladle would cost money that we didn’t need to spend.  his statement might be true, but my only thought was that this ladle belongs in a kitchen that is in a house that’s never been our home (i also thought ladles are cheap and if i want a new ladle i’ll get a new ladle.)  i think it might have been the first time we had to think about our return being more than just a move.  while a lot of the steps are the same as the moves we’ve made in the past – making to do lists, packing boxes, arranging logistics… all that fun stuff – there’s something different on the other end.  something that i’m not totally ready to embrace, but something that i know will be good.

i’m looking forward to making a home.  i’m going to paint walls (lots of walls, but not all the walls) and i’m going to hang pictures.

 

 

 

 

making plans, dragging feet

time marches on.  it just won’t stop and i’d like it to.  i’d like to pull back on the reigns and say, “whoa” and have time stop.  and wait until i’m ready for it to move forward, but it won’t.  it just won’t.

right now i count the days by the thens.  michael’s in indonesia right now.  he’s been gone for almost 2 weeks and has another week to go.  then he’s home for a little less than a week.  then he’s in africa for approximately 2 weeks.  then he’ll be home for close to a week.  then he’s in america for 4 days.  (yes, he’ll spend almost as much time traveling for that trip as he will actually be there and he’ll spend way more time recovering from that trip than he will be there.)  then he’s home.  and for some reason that’s when time really starts for me.  time starts in april.  not sure what my mind thinks happens between now and then (mid Feb and early April), but for some reason it doesn’t feel real.  it doesn’t feel like progress.  about the same time michael returns from america family starts arriving.  aly (i cannot wait to see her, it’s been so long!!!), her boyfriend (we’ve never met him), my mom, and my aunt will all come to chiang mai.  and i’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that chan will also be coming (that feels like a bit of a long shot, but also not impossible).  we’ll have two weeks of family and tourist stuff and songkran and time not stopping.  overshadowing everything is the weight of “this is it”.  this is good bye.  this is our last smokey season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last hot season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last songkran (not always miserable and something i will definitely miss).  and i think what makes it harder is that it doesn’t feel like there are any firsts to come.  it isn’t our first time to live in america.  it’s not our first time to live in colorado.  it’s not even our first time to live in the house we’ll be returning to.  it feels like too much.  but it can’t be stopped.

so, we make plans.  there are the we need to sort this plans, the we need to do this plans – the logistical stuff that comes with moving.  those are sort of easy (easy to see, not necessarily easy to do.)  but then there are the we have to do this plans.  and they aren’t the same for all of us.  michael is ticking off some of his through work.  i know with each trip he makes he’s saying goodbyes.  and it’s not easy for him.   the hardest plan of all is the final how do we leave chiang mai plan.   figuring out how to do goodbye isn’t easy.

it’s much easier to say late july is forever away.

movin’ on

“maybe it’s human nature to think one’s own situation is the unique and incomparable one, the transcendent exception.”  ~ sue monk kidd the mermaid chair

chan and i left chiang mai yesterday and the goodbyes at the airport were a validation that our decision to move here was a good one.  it was emotional and so very painful, but also proof of how he threw himself into life here.

knowing we’re not the first to make this journey doesn’t make it any easier.  but it is helpful to know others have survived it, their kids have flourished, and it’s all been worth it.  i can’t wait to see what the next few years bring for chan and i hope he takes on university life the same way he’s done it here.  but before we tackle the next few years we’ve got a week in tokyo to take on.  (it was on the flight from bangkok to tokyo that i came across that quote from sue monk kidd.)

we seem to like to take the not the easiest way possible route when it comes to travel when we go to and from the states and why would we choose to do it differently for a family vacation.  michael, a16, and s13 left friday night for bangkok and had an all night layover before heading to tokyo – via kuala lumpur.  maybe not the most direct route, but to hear them tell it it was up there with one of the most miserable.  chan and i left chiang mai saturday morning (16 hours after the other guys) we flew to bangkok had a two hour layover and then headed to tokyo.  directly to tokyo.

they took the yellow route. we took the purple one.

we arrived 1/2 an hour before them and our first stop was the fancy japan potties.

after our pit stop we went got our passports stamped and then on to collect our luggage.  since we were ahead of the rest of the family we went ahead and gathered their luggage, too.  they made it in, we all went through customs and then it was time to figure out how to go about finding the apartment we’d rented for the week.  luckily we had an address in japanese and our taxi driver could read japanese (amazing, i know.)  our two bedroom apartment was bigger than we expected.  it has a washing machine.  and best of all it’s vey own fancy toilet.

it was well past midnight at this point and we had 3 hungry kids on our hands.  so michael and i braved it and found a convenience store where we picked up some assorted snacks.  including the goldilocks and the three bear version of cup noodle.

we were all asleep by 3am.  that’s way past my bedtime and we ended up sleeping a tad late on Sunday morning.  which was alright, because i’d purposely left sunday as a pretty easy tourist day.