Two years ago today, I boarded a flight from San Francisco to Shanghai and left the USA, my home for the better part of 21 years, indefinitely.
(The OCD side of me that’s obsessed with accuracy needs to point out that technically, June 8 is the real anniversary of the day I left home to travel — San Francisco was my first stop on the world tour and just happened to be in the same country. But I’m going to be honest, I completely forgot about it last week. So I’m celebrating today, the day I left America, instead!)
I thought about doing a long comprehensive post on my life in the last two years: jobs I’ve worked, achievements reached, number of countries visited, et ceterblah. But I decided against it for two reasons:
1. I’ve covered most of the big topics already. All of last year’s travels can be found in my 2011 Travel Recap (and this post would be hella long if I repeated that list again). Pre-2011, I was in Shanghai and Singapore; post-2011, I’ve been in Paris. There, you’re caught up on my travels.
As for jobs, I wrote those up in my post on how I started traveling after graduation.
2. This isn’t a big deal to me. I know some people get really excited over these kinds of anniversaries — myself included; I was mildly celebratory on the one-year anniversary of my move to Singapore. But I’ve moved abroad before, been an expat before, traveled before.
The only difference about the flight I took two years ago was that it was the first time I didn’t have an end date to my travels, and I didn’t have my parents to fall back on. I left the nest for good; and for the first time, I had to pay my own rent. So, “happy leaving-the-nest-and-becoming-an-adult-sary” would probably be more appropriate.
Anyway, what I will do to celebrate my leaving-the-nest-expat-travel-versary is to acknowledge the amazing people in my life, who have made these last two years damn awesome and life-changingly memorable:
First and foremost, I am so lucky to have parents who support what I’m doing. This is especially important as a child of Asian parents, who come from a culture where following your dreams isn’t always encouraged; rather, you’re expected to do what’s best for your family and community, and not doing so is deemed shamefully selfish.
Most Chinese parents probably would have freaked out and been angry I didn’t go onto grad school — yet my parents, even if they are disappointed deep down that I didn’t grow up to be a lawyer, have not once tried to guilt me into staying; or berated me or told me my plans are dumb, or fanciful, or a waste of time or money.
And despite their smiles and happy emails, I know it breaks their heart that I’m not living closer to home — yet they understand that I have an overwhelming desire to travel and see the world, and they accept my plans, even if that means I only see them every other year. No words will ever describe how grateful I am to them for their acceptance and support.
To the employers who have taken chances on me (which has been every single one so far), from Singapore to China to Paris: Thank you. I know I haven’t always been the easiest fresh graduate to work with. I’ve had a lot of growing pains, yet you were all willing to stick with me, guide me and teach me. Each job has been so different from the others — I’ve worked with journalists, fashion models, children — so thank you for gifting me with some very unique experiences, from opening ceremonies and television launch parties to even just the simple joy of watching a child I’m tutoring speak to me in Chinese for the first time.
Lord only knows where I’d be without you. From my closest friends in Singapore, to people I’ve only briefly talked to on my travels, and everyone in between: thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for cooking for me, playing poker with me, being a shoulder to cry on, accompanying me on spontaneous trips to Borneo, pigging out with me, walking me home at 5 am, telling me about that little hole-in-the-wall that had the best chilli crab in Singapore; for late-night Skypes, biking with me in the rain, sneaking me up to the MBS infinity pool, making me laugh until I cried — thank you for enriching my travels, and my life.
Of course, a thank you to the love of my life who has so greatly changed the way I see the world. I left home two years ago as single as could be; in fact, I was anti-relationship. I wanted to be solo for years and focus only on numero uno, because I thought having a partner would only bring me down.
Mike has proven that the opposite is true: my travels have only gotten infinitely better since we met. I’ve experienced so many new things thanks to him — white-water rafting in Bali, snorkeling in Thailand, five-star hotels in Vietnam — and his über-relaxed demeanor is the perfect complement to my neurotic self. I probably would have exploded from stress a hundred times over the last year and a half if it weren’t for Mike helping me stay calm and keeping things in perspective.
He also supports my dreams a thousand percent, and pushes me when I want to give up on them — even though that means we’ll have to continue doing long-distance. He is my rock, and I know for an absolute fact I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Mike.
And of course: my readers. A big thank you to everyone who reads, comments, and supports my efforts on this site!