A year ago, I wrote a post about returning to Southeast Asia. I was flying by the seat of my pants. If I’m really honest, I was in such a hurry, and so in strategy/fear/excitement mode, that I didn’t even make time to find out exactly where Malaysia was.
In fact, the only reason I knew where I was geographically at first was because when I stepped off the plane and out into the lush urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur, the air smelled like spice, clove, and haze — just like Indonesia did when I was there. So now you guys know, too: Malaysia is juuuust north of Indonesia. And it smells the same mostly because Indonesia uses slash-and-burn and the smoke drifts up into the air and floats over Malaysia. ”The haze.” Bringing with it allergies, smog-looking air pockets, and occasionally just being brutal enough to suffocate my friend’s daughter’s hamster. I’m serious!!! Isn’t that terrible?
Anyway, my intention this morning was not to write about the haze. I wanted to take stock of this past year, because this will be my last trip to Malaysia for a long time, and it feels so … different!
Last summer, I was literally flying by the seat of my pants. I decided to move to New York, so I moved to New York. It was slightly more complicated (and honestly scarier) than that, but with friends like Erin and Emily and Maggie and Daniela and Lena and Maya and incredibly supportive parents like mine, it worked out all right. I quickly left my brand-new apartment, did a workshop in DC, flew to California to spend a week with my best friends, and then left for Asia. I remember flying out of SFO the day after the Air Asia flight crash-landed on the runway there, the whole airport was quiet as I ate my little breakfast. I cried to my friends the night before, so scared and had no idea how to explain what I was feeling, approaching the unknown.
All I knew was how to get from the airport to the train station in Kuala Lumpur, and beyond that, it was all unknown. I didn’t know anything about being a mentor coach for AC, I didn’t know anything about Malaysia, and there was so much I didn’t know about me. My ten days in Malaysia were pretty amazing and terrifying and rich and wonderful, and it was so powerful to see “our work” of ontological leadership and coach training on another freaking continent. It was amazing.
Last summer, I had an apartment like a landing pad. Leaving was easy because “home” was brand new and it helped me avoid the natural depressive state that occurs when people move.
But the next trip - October - was harder. I’d just met someone who I couldn’t stop texting. The person who you meet and then suddenly things become clear and easy. The dramatic dating-related problems I’d had — how do I tell so-and-so that I don’t want to see him anymore? I don’t want to hurt his feelings AAAH! — were magically simple (i.e. just have a kind conversation about it). Even waking up in the morning was exciting. I think we had only been seeing each other for three weeks, but we were out to dinner with Emily and Josh, and I think Josh asked Cody, “what are you going to do while Laura is gone?” And he really sincerely said, “I don’t know.” The kind of person who you meet and suddenly things become clear and easy. It all just made sense. Really quickly. And that was when Cody started Chuckanucka Quest for me … . .
So I was sad to go. Same story in January — sad to go, dramatic exit, rearrange my life for a few weeks, elated once I got there, exhausted when I returned.
This summer, it’s a pretty different story. I’m not jet-setting across the country and distracting myself from creating a home. I’m not making choices about how I spend my time based on fitting into other peoples’ schedules. I live in a lovely apartment with my amazing boyfriend. And the sentences I am about to write are shocking to me, in that my earlier self would never have thought I would come to find so much joy in this, my being-so-busy-and-social self:
We have a mutually-agreed-upon Ikea bedspread in our room, and matching Ikea work tables in our office. He has a big computer monitor and mine is slightly smaller, closer to the window. Our art is all mixed up on the walls together, like our books on the shelves. And honestly, my favorite days are the ones where we don’t take advantage of living in New York and just take a walk, make a meal; being together in our home.
This is better than the vision I had for myself when I moved here. So, I’m not in a huge hurry to scoot across the world these days.
I feel like home makes sense now, like this is actually an expression of who I am as an adult. My early twenties after college were this wonderful, shared jumble of passion and confusion. I loved my friends. I loved our house and our little lives there. I feel like we were these big-dreaming, big-talking young women living in a cute house and raising our hearts up to the sky every day, the only way we knew how to make sense of our lives then.
And this trip — things do feel surprisingly easy. Maybe it’s because we’re close to a built-in vacation week. Maybe it’s because training will only be two days instead of five. Maybe it’s because it’s my last one and that looming fear of whether I can sustain this is gone. Grief? Relief? Whatever it is, I’m so excited for the next week, and to come back and have my summer and my love and my business full of love. Whatever it is, however difficult this year has been, I cannot believe what an amazing gift it is to be able to say: ”Oh, I’m going on a trip on the other side of the world? Give me 30 minutes to pack, and I’m good to go.”
And all before twenty-six. This is a good life. I’ll be back in a week, y’all!