Pieces of Home: The Challenge of Seeking Familiarity in Unfamiliar Places

Pairs Well With… “Home is where you leave everything you love and never question that it will be there when you return.” – Leo Christopher

Today has been the first day in Malaysia where I wanted to punch my day in the face.  One thing after another had gone wrong, and I’m surprised I didn’t lose my cool.  If I didn’t have so much work to do, I probably would have hidden in my room all day.  One thing continued to lead to another, annoyance upon annoyance building, and I threw my hands up at how laughable the day had become.

I’m coming up on week three of Remote Year and somehow the ankle bitter stressors of Old Life have followed me into my new abroad endeavor.  Shame on them.  That wasn’t supposed to happen! Like, ever.  Intersect those with minor frustrations of acclimating to a new country and one of two things are bound to occur: 1) you have a major meltdown or 2) you shut down.  I was unclear at this point which way this day was going to go.  There were still enough hours in the day for more chaos to ensue.

Currently, I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the stupid ass things that are taking my time away from the brilliant creative collaborations I’ve kicked into high gear here in Malaysia.  Insurance bills from appointments back in August that should have cleared when I actually had insurance, technology for my first podcast that failed me on the way to my first interview, and vacation arrangements for a Costa Rica trip in 2018.  2018? I can’t even handle February 18th two thousand and SEVENTEEN. Oh, and meanwhile, I’m trying to build and run a business, so there’s that.

There are not enough hours in the day, and the stress of what I should be doing to build my business and drive its success is surfacing within.  I just want to have fun and make a million dollars. Is that too much to ask?  If nothing else, I can thank my subconscious self for unknowingly planning ahead and giving me a “me weekend” to catch up and regroup before Bali tomorrow. (P.S., I’m going to Bali tomorrow.)

At some unknown point this week, I got smacked into my new reality and when I came to, I felt like I was behind and not keeping pace with my usual, ambitious self.  The order and precision of Old Life are in full showdown with the enjoyment and flexibility of New Life.  Usually, in times like these, I’d bring it down a notch and regroup over a glass of wine or a vodka soda. However, I can’t find a good glass of wine to save my life here (argh!), and cocktails are lacking the alcohol content I’m familiar with in America. Measured vodka pours? Why must you torment me so?  

And the burger I ordered the other day?  It wasn’t supposed to come on toast!  Toast!!! That’s just absurd. Toast for a burger is when you’re make shifting and too lazy to get your ass to the grocery store! The toast and weird ass BBQ sauce my burger was swimming in killed it for me, and this burger was something I had been looking forward to ALL. DAY.  See, I would have cooked myself dinner, but my stove doesn’t work.  Okay, it probably does but I don’t know how to light it!  Because who ever had to light a stove in the last twenty years in America?!?!

I have seen out of place things here in Asia where I thought, “Oh my goodness, this is not okay,” and would look around to gauge reaction from bystanders.  No one from Asia was really phased. Apparently, these situations are seemingly normal.  Like, the rat running through the restaurant. Did anyone else see that rat? No? NO ONE ELSE saw a 20-pound rat?  Running through the restaurant. Okay, cool.  (Maybe it was 7 pounds, but still.) Or the same crotch-grabbing street thief I keep running into in a city of 1.6 MILLION people (who I’m convinced is following me around Kuala Lumpur.) Let’s not forget about the cockroaches who make a grand entrance through the living room at an after hours party.  And finally, let’s talk about how you spend half your day waiting to cross the street.  But these things? They turned my head, sure, maybe they irked me, but didn’t really phase me.

You know what did phase me, though? Those little disappointments when you can’t find those pieces of home in the moment you need them.  Everything feels so amplified, and rationally, you know these things aren’t that big of a deal.  The thing about living in another country is you go for the unfamiliarity and the cultural experiences. But some point or another, you begin to crave just a touch of familiarity and comfort in the things you know.  For some on this Remote Year journey, that’s meant McDonald’s, and others, that’s meant having a 30 person girl’s night in.  Me? That’s a nice glass of red wine. (What can I say?  I’m a simple gal!)

Before bed, I reflected on the day and came to the conclusion that:

  • There are going to be bad days, even in Malaysia, or anywhere else I’m living – for the rest of my life.  Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you’re exempt from bullshit, though it would be nice.
  • Old Life doesn’t fade to black because I’m on the other side of the world.  I still need to manage and wrap up pieces of Old Life from afar.
  • These aren’t real problems.  They are moments of temporary frustration among all kinds of worldly goodness.  Take your shitty day and carry on.
  • We all have bad days.  Mine may not look like yours, which might not look like someone else’s but we all have them.
  • Most importantly, I am privileged to be here with so many great people who either feel like home – or will at least help me chase down that exquisite bottle of red…

Note: In between writing and publishing this post, I managed to find the best glass of red wine and the perfect burger, all at the same restaurant – across the street.  I guess it goes to show that some of the best things are right in front of us.  And the world is good again…

4 Responses to “Pieces of Home: The Challenge of Seeking Familiarity in Unfamiliar Places”

  1. Lara

    I feel this so hard, even though I’ve not moved anywhere so exotic! You’ve hit the nail right on the head in a brilliant style! I hope wine and Bali help!

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com

      Thank you! It’s nice to know that my writing is coming through. I really appreciate the compliment. Bali is simply the best.

  2. April

    Glad you found that glass of wine and burger. Sometimes it really is the small.things that can get you back on track! Happy Bali Day!! (What? Is that not a thing? Well it should be ?)

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com

      Thank you! It certainly helped me bring the tension down a notch. Starting a business on the road AND having all these little tensions can get to be a lot. Luckily, it was one day, a moment in time if you will, not a lifetime. And yes, Bali Day IS a thing!


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