Some days... when you're packed like a sardine on a crowded subway car, or walking down skyscraper lined streets filled with flashing neon lights... it hits you.
Toto, we are not in Pleasant Garden anymore.
You snap out of what has become your routine, and, in a moment of shock and realization, picture exactly where you are on a map... exactly how far from home.
Some days it hits you... when the only conversation you have is in broken Konglish with the lady at the 711... that this life is pretty lonely. You miss your friends and your family and your dog, and all of the other things that can make any old place feel like home.
Some days... when you're running from one job to another, spending all night writing and editing and coding and emailing, or building pages that may never get seen... you question whether it's all worth it. You think about how far you are from reaching your goals, and you wonder if you'll ever get there.
Some days... when you see photos of family and friends celebrating birthdays, holidays, and engagements... you start to wonder if you made the right choice by leaving. You've been gone so long, that the photos hardly look like anyone's missing.
Some days... when you're surrounded by coupled off Koreans in matching outfits... you think about the two year relationship that ended on a good note, but ended nonetheless. You think about all of times since that you'd tried and failed to find someone who meant something... and you wonder if you ever will.
Some days it hits you how much everything has changed... and not just your location. You've changed... in all this wandering, you got a bit lost.
Some days... when you're in your favorite quiet, cozy, little cafe and a huge group of foreigners rolls through all laughing and having a good time... you realize how much you miss having friends around that you can count on.
Not the type of friends you can count on to be down for drinks on a Friday night... the ones who are there the days you hit rock bottom with a shoulder to cry on. Not the type of friends who use you, replace you, spread lies about you, and then dish a shallow apology email months later. Real, true, deep, and honest friendships. You really miss those.
Some days it hits you... that, at one point, this was exactly what you wanted.
You look back on your childhood when you spent hours spinning a globe, marvelling at airplanes flying overhead, always dreaming of far off places... and you realize that these dreams are no longer dreams. You're living it. No, it's not as glitzy and glamorous as you imagined it'd be... but you're doing it... and you've changed in the process - good changes. You're more self-sufficient, more motivated, more bold and daring.
Some days... you meet a stranger in a hostel, a random cabbie, or a bartender... and you have a conversation that absolutely changes you and life as you knew it. No, you may not have as many solid friendships in your city as you did back home... but you have made beautiful connections and met incredible people from all over the world.
Some days... when you're in the middle of a lesson or a workday... it hits you - No, you may not love your school or management or the hours... but you love teaching, and you love these kids. You realize how lucky you are to even have this opportunity as a native English speaker.
Some days... after spending hours catching up on FaceTime with family or friends... it hits you how fortunate you are to have these loving and supportive people in your life... even though they may not be around physically.
Some days... when you're on a rooftop over the city watching life go by, taking in a sunset on an empty beach, or watching the sunrise over ancient temples... it hits you that this planet is beautiful... and you can't believe that you get to see these mind-bending, awe-inspiring, tear-jerking sights with your own two eyes.
Some days... it hits me like a freaking freight train... that this long-term expat, serial traveller, life is not as easy as I thought it'd be. But if it were easy, everyone would do it.
As with anything, you can't have your cake and eat it to... you take the good with the bad. Some days are filled with literal sunshine and rainbows and some days are mind-numbingly cold and lonely. I'm learning to accept these bad days and the negative emotions that accompany them - to allow myself to be sad or angry just as I'd be happy on my best days. To feel these emotions... but to also let them pass.
Though there's ground to be covered still in the pursuit of my wildest goals and dreams, I realize how much I've already accomplished. I picture exactly where I am on the map, and can't believe I'm actually doing the things that I dreamed about so many years ago.
It's a hard and complicated life, but it's rewarding too... and it's what we wanted.
So let's be more understanding... more supportive... and, on these bad days, let's keep it moving... always one foot in front of the other. Onwards and upwards.