If traveling overseas is the lust-fueled, starry-eyed, first three months of a relationship, then living overseas is a long marriage. You may not want to leap out of bed seconds after opening your eyes, eager to Instagram the sunrise in Cappadocia or the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, but you’ll know which restaurant makes the best hangover breakfast, and which restaurant is likely to give your visiting relatives diarrhea. Living overseas provides you with intimate knowledge of a city and just like a marriage, some of what you discover makes you fall deeper in love with the place, and some you wish you could back in time and un-know.
Ever since I read Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun as a twenty-year-old with a wicked case of wanderlust, I have been obsessed with the line, “To live wholly in another country fascinates me.” Almost twenty years later, those words still come back to me when I least expect them. Mayes story of packing up and moving to a small town in Italy felt like it was written for me, even though I was living in a small flat in Auckland, New Zealand, at the time, with no plans to live anywhere except the small island I was already on.
But still, I dreamed, and even went as far as looking at jobs and real estate in countries around the globe. On Sunday afternoons, I liked to walk the city streets, quiet and empty except for a few Uni students buying cheap noodles at walk up Chinese restaurants and the occasional group of tourists, always alarmed at the way Auckland shut up shop on Sundays in the late 90s. On those Sunday afternoons, my city felt foreign. I wanted to feel lost, disorientated; I wanted to be surprised at what was around the next bend.
But it was years, a wedding, and two babies before I passed through customs and immigration in another country without any intention of going back the other way. Seven years into our “two year trip to Australia” and we are definitely out of the honeymoon phase and have transitioned to a more comfortable and familiar relationship. So much so, that I decided 2017 was the year to shake things up a little.
I think it was around Xmas time when I made the decision – spontaneously, and in a moment of pure exhaustion brought on by too many commitments (as all big decisions should be made) – I wanted out… away… anywhere but here. I was finally ready to follow Frances Mayes and live wholly in another country. I didn’t want to holiday somewhere; I wanted to live. Minutes later, four tickets to Indonesia were booked and we were mentally planning our exit from everyday life.
It’s only four weeks. As much as I love a fantasy, there is schoolwork and grown up work and pets and responsibilities to consider. But, it’s a start. I expect to fall more in love with the tropical island we’ll be living on and I hope it develops beyond that, beyond the eating out and the swims in the pool and the souvenirs to something deeper and longer lasting. I want my eyes to see new things, my body to rest and heal, my soul to be shocked, surprised, awakened.
hamdi-yoga; angelo-abear, miranda-rumi