The Nature of Goodbye

What is in a goodbye?

Goodbyes are small moments in the grand scheme of a relationship.

Some goodbyes are forever goodbyes and some are temporary.

I’ve said goodbye to a lot of people in the last year. I’ve been on three continents in the last year (North America, Asia, Europe). I’ve lived on two (North America and Asia).  In the last twelve months, I’ve called five different cities and towns home (Chiang Mai, Thailand; Nakhon Chaisi, Thailand; Bloomington, Minnesota; Arlington, Virginia; Washington, DC).

With this constant moving, I’ve met so many people. I’ve lived with some of them; I’ve begun to love some of them; I’ve learned so much from most of them. With this constant moving, I’ve said goodbye to nearly all of them.

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Green Group, TESOL certification, October 2015. It’s amazing how much people can affect you in the course of one month. Saying goodbye to this group was certainly hard.

Some of those goodbyes I surely thought would be temporary. There was the kiss on the cheek at a 7/11 in Bangkok–someone I thought I’d certainly see within the next couple months, if not weeks, but whom I left Thailand without seeing again. There was the slightly awkward, rushed goodbye the day before New Year’s Eve, also in Bangkok. A goodbye I also Continue reading “The Nature of Goodbye”

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#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Moved…Again

If we were having coffee, I’d start off by saying hi! It’s been a couple very hectic weeks since I’ve joined the coffee share. I moved twice, lived in three different places, and was without wifi for a week. I’ve been preoccupied with getting into my own place, figuring out housemates, and continuing my job search. I’ve been learning a lot at the coffee shop and I’ve been feeling more comfortable (in some respects) with my position there.

If we were having coffee, I’d be delighted to let you know that I’m now officially a resident of the District of Columbia. I was so flustered and nervous when I didn’t have a place by August 1, but my college friend was so accommodating by letting me move in with her to her new place. I spent one week there until my current roommate and I had our DC place secured and ready to move in to. Last Sunday, we moved into a gorgeous, fully furnished house in a great neighborhood. We’ve signed a lease to live here until December, with the intention that we’ll be more settled into DC life then and have a bit more money on our hands to spend on furniture and such for an unfurnished house. For the time being, we are happy in our house for now. I met my roommate on Facebook, in a group for those looking for housing in the DC area, and she’s been great so far. We will have two more roommates joining us in the next month, including my good friend Phoebe, whom I interned with at the National Postal Museum in 2014! I love the way life can throw surprises at you if you allow it. Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Moved…Again”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–House Hunting and Deep Thoughts About Life, Among Other Things

If we were having coffee, we’d be talking about house hunting.

I’m staying with my college friend right now, but her lease is up at the end of July–so I need to find a place by the first of August. I’ve been scouring the internet looking for housing opportunities and I’ve been feeling a lot of stress.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I thought I had one. A place to live in DC. I met with the roommates and we seemed to get along well, I liked the location, but the application ended up falling through. I took it real hard and had a bit of a rough day on Tuesday, as a result. Towards the end of the day, I realized–there are so many other housing options in DC. So many people looking for roommates. So many rooms opening up. I had gotten it in my head that this house was the only one…but it’s not. I feel so rushed because there are only a couple weeks left of July now, but a lot can happen in a couple weeks. I’m certain I’ll find a place. Plus, this house was the very first one I toured–it honestly seemed too good to be true in getting into the first place I toured…and I guess it was. Something else will come along in time.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve had a mix of good and bad days this week. House hunting is stressful…especially on a time limit…and I’m eager and anxious to get into a place of my own. I think, another part of me is anxious about actually settling down. Though I Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–House Hunting and Deep Thoughts About Life, Among Other Things”

In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt

Moving to a different city without any job security waiting for you is scary. I’m so glad I did it. I feel more at peace about where I am than I have in ages. It’s still scary, though.

I went to brunch with a fellow graduate from my alma mater a couple weeks ago-she recently acquired a job in DC and moved here–and we were sharing stories about our experiences abroad. She had recently studied abroad in Europe and I, of course, am a few months back from Thailand. We started talking about places and the feelings we get from those places–how she enjoyed her time abroad, but how the city she was living in during her study abroad experience just didn’t feel right for her. How she didn’t feel inspired or alive in it. I was able to relate so much with her because that’s exactly how I felt about Thailand. That’s why I moved placements at the beginning of November and why I ultimately left Thailand in the end. While my second and final placement felt more right to me, it still wasn’t enough. While I will always love Minnesota because it’s my home, living there didn’t feel right, either. Now that I’m in DC, I just know this is where I’m supposed to be for the time being. I think places are like books–the best books are the ones that you read at a time in life when you resonate with them most. Likewise, the best places are those that you can resonate with most at a given time. Thailand was a fantastic place for me to travel through at this point in my life–but it wasn’t the right place for me to Continue reading “In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Moved

If we were having coffee, the first thing you’d notice is the change of location. Instead of meeting at one of the suburban coffee shops in my hometown, or perhaps an artsy Minneapolis shop with a hipster vibe, we’d be meeting in Arlington, Virginia, at a coffee shop a few blocks down from my temporary residence. I’m currently living with a college friend who was kind enough to let me stay with her while I get situated down here. I’ll be here for a couple weeks while I job search and decide if I should move into D.C. Proper or stay in Arlington. I’m leaning towards Arlington, at least for the time being, because as much as I love D.C., I’ve already lived there. Arlington is so close to everything in the District, but it’s also a new place to see and explore. We’ll see, though. Time will tell.

If we were having coffeeI’d tell you that I just decided to go. I moved without a job, which is kind of scary, but I’m also confident something will come up soon. I was only applying for jobs in D.C. back in Minnesota and nothing was coming up…so I decided my Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Moved”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–Funerals, Friends, and The Future

If we were having coffee, I’d say hello and we’d probably exchange some pleasantries. Then, I’d dive right into how exhausting my grandfather’s funeral was on Monday. Let me start off by saying that I’ve come to realize that I prefer to grieve in private. So, naturally, I have come to realize that I despise the public grieving ground that a funeral is. Everyone patting each other on the back and offering condolences. I know people mean well but man, I just want some space. My grandfather had an open casket and at twenty-three, I have never been to an open casket funeral before. I have never in my life seen a dead body and I mean, I’m a grown up. I know a dead body is pretty harmless. It won’t bite. Still, I couldn’t handle it. I tried my best to ignore the part of the room where his casket was on display for viewing because I knew I would lose my shit…but then I decided it would be right to just take one look. So, I found myself about ten feet away from the casket–close enough to see his body from afar–and, as anticipated, lost my shit. Thankfully, my aunt and mom came to the rescue and promptly dragged me away, telling me that I should feel no obligation to look at his body when I wasn’t comfortable with it, that grandpa wouldn’t want it that way.

Needless to say, when my time comes–hopefully many, many moons from now–I intend to be cremated and turned into a tree.

I found the rest of the day to be quite exhausting–I had a headache from crying and was overwhelmed by emotions and so many people, many of whom I hadn’t seen in ages or didn’t know at all. I was happy to be back home at the end of the day Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–Funerals, Friends, and The Future”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Make $7.00

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did absolutely nothing of interest this week besides receiving seven measly dollars in return for a bagful of old CDs and books that I brought in to sell at Half Priced Books. When I first went up to the counter to receive my bid, I thought the employee said $37, which I was going to be rather surprised and gleeful about. Alas, though, when I looked at the receipt, that $7 couldn’t be mistaken for anything else–as it gazed up at me with what I swear was a smirk.

I must admit, I wasn’t expecting much from this load given most of the books dated from the early 2000’s–and given that the majority of the world doesn’t even listen to CDs anymore. I mean, even the ever so popular iPod is out of date these days with the emergence of music streaming. Even still, I was optimistically hoping for at least an even $10. Oh, woe is me! Though, I suppose, life will go on…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have spent the majority of this week searching and applying for jobs in the D.C. area.

I am saving my money in order to move to Washington D.C. and, as a result, have really been limiting my expenditures of Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Make $7.00”

#Weekend Coffee Share–Keeping Busy, Looking to the Future

If we were having coffee, I’d start off with asking how YOU are, since it’s been so long since I’ve joined the coffee share. I’d pry a little bit into your life and we might exchange a hug, if you’re the type of person who likes to exchange hugs.

If we were having coffee, I’d talk about how good it feels to be home, how I miss Thailand dearly, but how I know I made the right choice in coming back to the States earlier than anticipated. I’ve spent the last few weeks spending time with family and friends and catching up on some much needed sleep, which was very much lacking in my life during the month that I was traveling in Europe and Thailand.

If we were having coffee, I’d talking about how I’ve spent much of this week checking job postings and writing cover letters and updating my resume. It’s been nice to have this time back at home with my family. It’s been nice to relax and not having to worry about much in terms of responsibility…but I’d also talk about how ready I am to move on with my life. Continue reading “#Weekend Coffee Share–Keeping Busy, Looking to the Future”

My Pursuit of Happiness

A handful of days ago, I was sitting in my friend Mo’s Bangkok apartment in tears. I had come to Bangkok for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of one of my TESOL friends; I had been so excited before leaving Nakhon Pathom for Bangkok–I was convinced the weekend would be fabulous. I recall thinking it might the first weekend in a long time that I’d be excited to go out with friends…

Well. It wasn’t.

Instead?

Instead, I spent the whole weekend feeling incredibly sad. Incredibly homesick. Incredibly lost. While I watched all of my friends have an amazing time, I felt like I was only half there. I wasn’t enjoying myself and all I wanted in the world was to go home…and not home to Nakhon Pathom, mind you–but home to the United States, to Minnesota.

It was only when I broke down at the end of the weekend in Mo’s apartment that the clarity I had needed all weekend came to the surface. “I just want to go home.” I blubbered to my friends. “I don’t know what’s happening to me…but I feel so lost and sad and just want to go home.”

It was in that moment that my friend Sarah looked me right in the eye and said something I knew instinctively to be true: “Britta, you’re not happy here. You’re not even happy with us.”

Her words rang in my head: You’re not happy here. In a matter of moments, the state of mind that had made up my whole semester made sense. Truthfully, in the last few weeks, I had come to realize this. Deep down, I had known that I wasn’t happy in my current situation. I was afraid to admit it to myself, though, because I was so determined to stay in Thailand and live my life as an expat.

Sarah was right, though. She is right. I love teaching and I love my students, but I haven’t experienced a true and lasting feeling of contentedness in Thailand since leaving the emotional high of Chiang Mai. I come home from school at the end of the day and don’t know what to do with myself. I haven’t been successful at meeting Thai people here and more so, I’m finding that I don’t want to. When I do meet up with my TESOL friends, I find myself not wanting to do anything. I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore partier in the slightest, but I do like to go out on occasion–and I have had absolutely no desire to do that at all here. I feel uninspired and lost and although I’ve learned so much and tested myself in many ways in these past few months in Thailand, my life has felt more lifeless than anything. There have been moments, yes–mostly while traveling with TESOL friends, but also instances at school when I had a really successful class or after I’ve had a great interaction with a local in my town–but they have been far and few Continue reading “My Pursuit of Happiness”

CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.

Do you ever get the feeling that something is just off? That something is off and you can’t necessarily put a finger on why. That something is off and you know that, even if it’s not necessarily convenient or easy, you have to make a change?

Today I should be heading to my first day of school at Teacher Britta at a secondary school in Nong Khai.

But…I’m not.

Instead, I’m catching a flight to another part of Thailand to settle into a new placement, to a new life.

— — — —

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Nong Khai. It’s a bustling town. There’s actually quite a lot to do here. It’s in a cool location, right on the border of Laos. There is absolutely no reason to not like Nong Khai.

It’s not you Nong Khai, I promise. It’s me.

From the moment I got here, I had a fleeting sense that something wasn’t right. I pushed it aside, though. This is my placement, after all. I shouldn’t question it. Right?

Still. I found myself avoiding it. I had already had a two day trip to Laos planned when I got here Continue reading “CHANGES. They Happen Sometimes.”