Six months ago, I turned my life upside-down. Literally.
I went to the other side of the Earth.
At the end of October – a month before my fiftieth birthday – I boarded the Texas Eagle train in Maricopa, AZ, and let it rumble me west, and then climbed into the sky on a cheap 2 a.m. China Eastern flight out of LAX.
Sometime during the flight the PA came on and a sweet, gentle voice announced that the plane was about to hit turbulence.
“Please don’t worry,” she said.
She sounded so certain things would be just fine. I believed her.
In Bangkok it was dark and rainy. When the subway let me out at my stop, the traffic outside curdled my blood. I bumbled through the madness trying to find my hostel. Suddenly, out of the darkness came an angel named Narong, who helped me find my way.
That’s what travel is like, a lot: you bumble, lost, and then an angel comes along and points the way.
Arriving, I had a far-too-heavy backpack, very little money, and not much idea what I was going to do – only the hope that things would be different somehow on the other side of the world.
Since then I’ve been moseying around Thailand, Malaysia, and Lao, getting my bearings, learning to live over here, while asking and trying to answer a lot of questions.
I’d left relationships, jobs, and homes before. I’ve turned my life upside-down (metaphorically) at least half a dozen times, trying to remake it better.
I’d seen my friend Kelly move across the country, as a single mom, and build a rich new life in a place that felt more like home. Hope, at 20, set out to walk across the country, broke her leg, recuperated, and then walked and bicycled up the West Coast – singing all the way. My brother went back to school in his 30s and is now a successful surgeon; he just completed a fellowship at Harvard. People who showed me that taking risks can be more than worth it.
After six months wandering around Southeast Asia, it feels like time to share some of my journey.
I hope this blog might inspire and encourage people who, like me, yearn for a way of life that’s more adventurous, expressive, and expansive – or, like me, are trying to find their voice and open their heart to this magnificent, terrifying world.
Because upside-down? Awesome.