It’s astounding to think that just over 1 year ago we were arriving into the Indianapolis airport from our big move across the world in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the Thursday before Memorial Weekend, with 2 very tired kids in tow, and us as aching parents from a long 30+ hour journey. How have 12+ months already come and gone so quickly when while in the midst of it all, I felt like life would never calm down and I would never feel settled?
Well here we are, we survived our 1st year repatriating into the USofA and I can definitely say we are one strong family unit indeed! Such a roller coaster of emotions, for both us as the adults as well as for our babes (I wrote about our toddler’s struggles here) but through the days of gloom and the days of celebration, we stood by one another and believed in US, which makes all the difference in the world.
There is so much about the contrast of living in SE Asia and living in America that I could talk about….but here are 3 big ones:
The smells, oh my gosh the smells, how I miss the rankness of SE Asia. Crazy right? How can I miss that stench that I could never leave my house in KL without smelling? Who know, but I do, oh how I do miss the smells of SE Asia. Along with the bad smells, I miss all the good ones too- walking down the alleys amongst all the food stalls (which in America is similar to the new wave of food trucks) inhaling the deliciousness of noodles, broth soups, fried food, fresh produce, grilled satay, boiling sauces….I could go on and on….gawd how I miss the cuisines of SE Asia. Nothing here compares, nothing…but all that being said, my mouth waters over good mexican food again (well, at least american mexican cuisine), burgers, pizzas, fresh salads…you get the gist right?
The people, I mean can I just be honest about the preverbal white elephant in the room? America has TONS of diversity…..truly it does….but it just so happens that where we moved back to doesn’t offer much in that respect….much of it is nowhere near where our current home base is: the suburbs of Indianapolis, IN. LOL! But beyond the physical differences of people, what I really mean about the people is the warmness of the people in Asia. Again, no dissing on Americans here….but honestly, when was the last time you could go to a restaurant in the states and the waitstaff offers to hold and entertain your children for you while you eat in peace?! I rest my case. It’s just “different” out there. In Asia, there is such an emphasis on children and mothers and pregnant women and families, that it was rare for us to not be stopped and admired or offered help if need be. I’m sure some of that had to do with how different we and our children looked from the outside, but truly there is such a love of families and babies that I really do miss. On the flip side, I do not miss living in constant fear of getting my purse snatched or my car stolen.
The geographic location of Malaysia- it’s basically ideal within the confines of SE Asia. It is SO CHEAP to travel around the region- every country is a hop, skip, & a jump away. I miss our beach holidays, our adventure seeking thrills, our city meandering, our countryside exploring…..I miss it all so so much. We have a plethora of stamps in our passports but more importantly, we have memories and experiences that nobody can take away from us and that have left an indelible mark on our beings forever. Here in the states it’s more like driving across state lines or dealing with flying with kids on USA airlines- yea, basically blows. Plus, the ability to get to another country is a huge feat and cost due to the vast size of America….whereas our in Asia the countries are like the size of our states here- crazy right?!
But back to repatriating…..I’ve been writing about this for the better part of a year but still, I feel like a pendulum swinging between the various stages of repatriation. Of the 7 total stages I have talked about in length, I would say that I am definitely over 1. Shock/Excitement, 2. Denial/Confusion, & 3. Anger/Guilt…..but #4: Bargaining- I am not so sure if I’m fully past this one. If I’m being honest, I think I do still daydream about my life in SE Asia for sure- how good I had it with a “helper”, with the variety of cultures, food, friendships, traveling, etc etc etc. #5: Depression- I do think I am past this stage….I don’t get depressed per say anymore about being home, rather I reminisce about those days that feel just like yesterday. Stage #6: Testing- I have been so fortunate to make some amazing friendships here stateside in a very short amount of time….and the fact that some of my closest expat friends now have postings in America have made it so awesome to have quick visits and easier phone calls for catching up. Finally with stage #7: Acceptance/Escape- this one is a tough one and I am not sure I can answer this one honestly. There is so much I love about being back in the states- family being the best part, lifestyle and familiarity are a given, new and old friendships make my days brighter, and just the ease, cost & availability of purchasing items- anything under the sun really, America really does have it all! But on the flip side, I always have been and most likely always will be an adventurer at heart. I am so passionate about exploring the unknowns, about meeting new people different from myself, about learning something new about myself through my travels, about expanding my mind and teaching my children how big our beautiful world really is.
On top of all of this, our first year back has had many personal struggles, really that are too raw to discuss openly still, but struggles that have made our repatriation much harder that we initially imagined our repatriation process to be. I have no idea if we will live in Indiana forever, no idea if we will be fortunate enough to have another expat assignment, no idea if we will move to another state, but I do know this- as a family unit: David, myself, Ava, and Mac, we are stronger than ever. We believe in one another, we love one another, we lift one another up when it just feels like too much, and we encourage one another in our dreams and passions. This is life, and we embrace it all, knowing that God is above us and directing us in His will. This much we know and this is what I hold onto for dear life.
Until next time, think of how far you’ve come~
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