Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." -United States Declaration of Independence 

My Declaration:

The first time I read the term "ex-pat" was six years ago in Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. I didn't know what it was but whatever it was, I knew I wanted to be it.

Now, as I sit writing this blog on an iPad while licking the remnants of a Nusco jar, hazelnut and nougat deliciousness, I realize I have entered into ex-pathood in Kathmandu, Nepal. Putting our travels on hold for three months, we decided to set up temporary life in a quaint apartment with a small kitchen, a shower with hot running water, a little garden in the front and a nice-sized backyard, perfect for hosting salsa lessons. It has all the necessary requirements of a temporary dwelling in which to call home. Our home stay has two other rooms that are currently occupied with long-term residents as well with whom we have evening tea and dinner on occasion. We're like a little multilingual family.

Kathmandu is the perfect place for ex-pats looking for a quiet city life with a little bit of international flare. The Nepalese here are used to seeing foreigners, they don't ostracize us by staring and pointing, causing traffic jams and congesting the street to get a better look. They simply smile and nod or occasionally give a greeting of "namaste", continuing on about their business. The community has a wide variety of activities to partake in, hosted by local and international peoples. Salsa, flamenco, horse back riding, trekking Mt. Everest, volunteering with local children, English classes, Nepali classes, there's no shortage of activities.

Volunteering with local Nepali children, taught them salsa!

I am comfortable here. I was comfortable the moment we crossed the border and felt the energy relax and lessen into a calm, soothing atmosphere. I feel confident here. In my ability to pursue my career and in accomplishing goals I had to put on hold while we were traveling through India. Somewhere along the line, I accepted this as my new life. Halfway between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, I accepted that I want to spend my life abroad, overseas, living in other countries.

I'm not going back.

When I boarded that flight in LA six months ago, I had an uncanny feeling I wasn't returning. The door on that chapter of my life was closing and I was entering a new door I couldn't see through. All throughout the flight to Germany, I was electrified with excitement, trepidation, sadness as I watched my old life disappear into the background.

I've wanted to live abroad since I was in high school. I used to sit on the curb outside of my parent's house, a pen and my journal in hand, and day dream about the cities I would visit when I was older, feeling nostalgic about leaving my family and friends but knowing I would go one day. It took me years to build up the strength and overcome the fear of loneliness to accomplish a dream I made for myself all those years ago. I never imagined I would leave with my best friend, my partner, my home all wrapped up in the body of a man with whom I am building a life.

This is my announcement, a testament to the authenticity of this journey: I am living abroad indefinitely, I am not moving back to the States any time soon.

I read a quote from Ayngelina on her blog Bacon Is Magic that resonated with me last night:

"And while it may not have been the right thing for everyone. It was right for me. I know it's selfish and I'm okay with's an odd metaphor but traveling is akin to peeling an onion. I have been slowly shedding the layers that really don't matter. Being in another country I no longer need to carry the self-imposed expectations of what I should be or what I should do. At times it's been painful, dealing with raw feelings often resulting in tears, but things are slowly becoming clearer."

It made me realize I wasn't completely honest with myself when I left, that I knew without a shadow of doubt that I didn't want to only travel for a year, and leaving was the most selfish thing I've done to date. I left my family. I left my friends. I left my job. I left an old life behind. A life I didn't really want.... and I'm okay with it. I want to be location independent. Now that I've accepted that I am going to live abroad indefinitely while I build my career (we're living on 3 USD a day, how can I say no to that?) I'm not afraid of visiting home and being guilt-tripped into staying when I don't want to. I am living for me now, not worrying about what I should be doing or worrying about who I should be, but actually just being me, authentically me.

With that being said, Matt and I plan to visit home in December for a few weeks. We miss our families and friends and now that this is our life, taking a vacation to visit home and wrap up our financial matters, is due. Christmas at home sounds like the icing on the cake of a well-spent year.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. Thank you for reading my posts and sending me love and inspiration when I needed it most. I'm sure the ones who know me best, knew this was coming, knew I didn't actually want to come back home. The world is too big for me to stay tied down in one place for too long, I have too many memories to make and places to see. My life goal is bigger than just me, bigger than Matt and I, bigger than anything I can even possibly imagine.

Author's disclaimer: I am not denouncing my citizenship, America, or the like (as the technical definition of "ex-pat" states. The colloquial use of this term means any person who is living in another country but still a U.S. Citizen). I love my home, I love my country, and traveling has given me a new appreciation for the liberties, freedoms, customs, people that make up our home.

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