I took my first trip to a foreign country in 1968, when I was eighteen. With my high school Russian class I went on a three-week tour of Russia. This was at the height of the Vietnam war. Our hotel in Leningrad was full of North Vietnamese students. Brezhnev was President of the U.S.S.R.
About two years later I drove from Missouri to Juarez, Mexico. It was even crazier than Russia. By this time I was hooked on travel and have been ever since. I’d rather spend money on travel than on buying things to own.
Two years after that, I dropped out of college for a semester, cashed in the tuition my father had paid, and went to Ireland for a month, taking a side trip to London and Paris. From that point I made frequent trips to Mexico, and finally to South America, which is a big place full of countries that aren’t at all like Mexico.
Then, about ten years ago I discovered Thailand. I live here now as a retiree. As fun as it is affordable, it’s safer than the Americas and the massage and food are better.
After nine months of moving to Chiang Mai, I made the mistake of leaving Thailand to move to Dubai for four months for a job that didn’t work out. That proved to me that I have no interest in living in Middle East.
In all the time I’ve spent abroad, I learned to speak pretty good Spanish and Thai, but the only foreign language I ever really studied was Russian, which I spent eight years learning back in high school and at University, and have now largely forgotten due to disuse. Maybe if I could live in Russia for a year or so it would all come back. I’d like that.
Some ex-pats I met in Dubai loved living there. It was everything they had hoped it would be. They were making plenty of money, paying no taxes, and living like the rich. Good for them. As far as I could see, there was no counterculture there. No artists neighborhood. No writers café. Just big money buying whatever it can.
I grew tired of my shopping choices in America, because those seemed to be the only real choices I had. I had to drive everywhere, and the only choice was which mall featuring which franchised stores that were the same in every other city. After a few years of that, you have to rent a storage unit to store all the stuff you’ve bought. No thanks.
I’ve been gone for six years now and I’m not tempted to return. Do I harbor some resentment that I haven’t admitted to, some sort of grudge that makes me not homesick? No, I don’t think so. The life I left behind has nothing to offer that the future abroad doesn’t. It’s that simple.
Now, I no longer think of where I am. I’m more interested in knowing who I’m with or what I’m up to. Location interests me but little. Comfort is a decision you make. What’s going on inside your head matters more than where you are.