It was incredible coming back five years later to the country that had such an impact on me growing up.
I was raised to have a curious mind, to explore the beauty of language, to love cultures different than my own.
It was in this city that I found Jesus as my best friend, where I learned that family is one of the most important things you can have, where I became convinced that Thai food is undeniably the tastiest food on the planet.
I knew such a huge part of me was wrapped up in this land of traffic thicker than the humidity and blatant stares and friendlier smiles. I remember days when all I wanted was to leave. But you can never run from who you are. Missions runs through my veins and I knew I’d come back. I’d always come back.
This time it felt strangely like…home.
Home is one of those words I always stumbled over.
What is home?
I had moved so many times early in my life and I rebelled mentally about settling in the unexotic Midwest. And it wasn’t until I’d been back to Thailand twice, Kenya, Costa Rica, and finally Greece to realize that this little Midwest city that could hardly be called a city wasn’t such a bad place to come back to.
I fell in love with the smallness, the simplicity, the coffee shops, the culture. Even after my two closest friends moved several states away, I was content.
And for the first time I knew how it felt to be planted – my roots grew a little deeper. Suddenly I realized I had two beautiful places to call mine.
Friends come and go and home isn’t always where all the friends are. My people span too many continents for that.
All at once I realized that home was less about my surroundings and more about my heart. It was about the coffee shop I visited two afternoons a week, where the Americanos are strong and the baristas know my name. It was about my favorite streets and downtown memories and old houses full of character and charm and stories to tell. It was about the library brimming with the worlds and adventures that filled my childhood summers. It was about family and shady trails and quiet creeks.
It was when I became content to call my little Midwest “home” that Bangkok suddenly felt like home as well.
Now I’m packing my suitcases and moving back to Southeast Asia, though a new part for me – a little smaller, a little more beachy, a little less familiar.
I’m less sure than ever about what the future holds and far more excited than I ever hoped to be.
New country, new people, new adventures to be had and memories to be made.
I am so looking forward to adding Indonesia to the places I call home.