New Reality

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Back in Seattle…

My tourist visa was up on the 15th, so I had to leave Indonesia once again. I had grappled with what I was going to do – Singapore again? A new country? Back home? And then an image of a face came into my mind…little Claire. I have been watching her grow up the past 4 months over FaceTime and I knew I had to come back to see her in person. So I booked my ticket back to America and enjoyed my last couple of weeks in Amed. 

I ate all my favorite meals (bakso soup and nasi campur), kept volunteering as much as I could, and rode my scooter everywhere. I soaked up the energy until the very last minute. 

I was required to leave Indonesia by December 15th, so I managed to find a flight out at 11:55pm. I was going to stay as long as I humanly could. But the day before I was supposed to leave, I received an e-mail telling me my flight has been changed to 5 hours earlier. This cut my last day in half, but I did my best to not let it get to me. Oddly enough, my very last day was one of the most peaceful days of my entire trip. You know those warm, Summery days when kids are on school break, everyone seems to be outside, birds are chirping, and everyone just seems happy? That’s what this day felt like. Perfect last day. I was terribly sad to leave Amed, but as my driver was exiting the little town, my gut was telling me I’d be back. I don’t know when, but I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I’d be in Amed.

I flew from Bali to Jakarta, then on to Beijing. Beijing was a tough layover – extremely rude people (very hard to transition from the nicest humans ever in Bali to people who just seem angry all the time). Managed to make it through 7 hours without wanting to die, and then it was my 12 hour final flight to Seattle. I barely got sleep, watched 4 movies, and sat next to a really cool 12-year-old who has traveled all over the world. He kept tapping me on my shoulder to ask random questions (“Ummm excuse me, what’s your favorite cola?”) and he actually kept me sane while the baby 4 rows ahead was crying every hour. 

And then finally. Off the plane, through immigrations, and baggage picked up. Mom and Jay picked me up and thankfully my Mom packed a few sweatshirts for me to wear. I was expecting a huge culture shock upon my return, but being back in Seattle was like riding a bike. Got right back into it and it felt like I hadn’t even left. The biggest shock was the coldness.

Of course I had to do a few of my favorite things now that I was back. We enjoyed Starbucks White Mochas at Pike Place Market, eggs Benedict at Pesos, NAP, cheese and crackers, and dinner at Dick’s. Ahhh, Seattle.

So now what? I wasn’t afraid to go to Bali and see where life would take me, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at all to be back. “Back to reality,” everyone keeps saying. So what’s my new reality? Do I hunt for a full-time, corporate job? I need to make an income if I’m going to travel again. Where will I live? CAN I even live in Seattle anymore? I have a bazillion questions and only one answer: go with the flow. I’ve promised myself to maintain the spirit that I had in Bali. Just because I’m in the Pacific Northwest, doesn’t mean I have to “get back to the grind.” I’m going to still explore, find joy in every day, and follow my intuition. 

I’m at my favorite coffee shop next to Greenlake now (yessss, I’m back at my happy place!), and they’ve since remodeled and renamed it to “The Retreat.” How fitting… It’s seriously odd how it feels like I was only gone a week. Feels like I’ll be waking up tomorrow and getting ready for work. Was Bali just a dream? It was as quick as a blink! When you’re there, time slows down. Everything that happened made it feel as if I was there a lifetime. But now I’m back and cars are driving faster, people seem a bit more agitated, and everything is expensive as hell. The prices are going to be a hard adjustment – I’m going to miss my $1.50 full tank of gas!

But just like my favorite coffee shop has remodeled, so have I. I noticed I was driving slower on I-5 (if you know me, that’s a big deal), and nothing is bothering me. Granted, it’s only been a day… But even though it feels like I was barely gone, my body went through many seasons and emotions. Out of all the times in a lifetime, I happened to be in Bali while Agung was erupting for the first time in 55 years. That volcano shifted everyone that was in Bali whether they realized it or not. It made me look at life in a whole new way. 

In the first week of landing in Bali in August, I found a perfect white sand beach that felt like was meant for me.

Just a few days ago, I went back to the “Stairway to Heaven” beach. It had completely changed. I couldn’t really believe it and I checked my map to make sure I was at the same beach. Within 4 months, a white sand beach had completely been turned into a stone beach. There was clearly a lot of work happening on this beach while not looking. It’s so representative of my time there. I know my brain has shifted and I know my heart has grown. I feel like a whole new person.


While I was in Bali, I was unemployed. But I could play the whole, “I’m traveling” card. But now that I’m back in America, I can’t play that card anymore. Now it’s reality – I’m unemployed and there’s a tinge of embarrassment. Now the pressure of ‘figuring out my life’ is becoming a bit stronger.

I’ve had visions of a few different scenarios. One of those visions has me turning into a lazy, depressed, jobless person… But I REFUSE to let that happen. I could also end up getting back onto the path that I was on before, which seems to be what everyone sort of expects. Or I could keep going with my adventure – see where life takes me… I’m extremely curious to see what I’ll end up doing. If it were up to me, I’d love to dogsit, babysit, keep writing, and not feel the chains of societal expectations again. I want to keep listening to my intuition, follow the signs, and trust that I will end up in the right place. I felt so free in Bali – I intend to keep that sense of freedom. It wasn’t just a vacation like so many people think. It was my new way of life – it was training for a new reality.

So it’s decided, isn’t it? Keep going. Adventure in the Pacific Northwest. No concrete plans…going with the flow like usual. 

Let’s see where this road goes…

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