Saturday, December 18, 2010

An open-ended ticket.

Last month, the first month since I began writing on Primitive Culture in which I did not post a single entry, a major anniversary quietly slipped by. November 2010 marks five years that I have spent living outside of the US, my home country. Though I've been back to visit several times, nearly the entirety of my adult life has been spent living in lands that are not my own-- first South Africa, then Thailand, then South Africa again, and now Taiwan. The fact that I only thought to mark the date a week or so after it had passed is in away a statement on my living abroad. I don't live abroad out of exile, I'm not staying away with a single-minded purpose. While I spent much of my teenage years dreaming of living abroad, I have to admit the fulfillment of that dream seems to have come more through happenstance than choice.


Of course, there had to be an initial choice to set me on that course. Prior to the five years I've just detailed, I was a recent college graduate with little going on in my life, no clue what to do with myself, employed in a travel bookstore. It was a bad combination. Slow days in the shop gave me hours to page through travel guides, making imaginary escape routes. The more I looked the further I went into the unfamiliar. And finally I decided I was ready to buy a ticket. I sent in my application to a University in South Africa, mailed in my passport to get more pages added, and bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul.

In the aftermath of that decision, I've had little opportunity to really look back on the strange place it's taken me. But five years on, I think I'm ready to sort through the history, to become an archaeologist of my own past. I'm ready to open up maps and trace my route back to where it began. I'm not sure yet what I'm looking for. But, somewhat circuitously, I think it might give a hint of where I'm going next.

8 comments:

kay* [from india. with love.] said...

wow. great post alexander. it's nice to read, even briefly, how you ended up where you are....that one decision which had then a kind of domino effect.

hope you share some of that past/route here on your blog.

Postcards and Coasters said...

Nice post... I've always wondered what took you away. A bookstore and a dream... that's really cool. The first time I left home was in college. I found an ad for a college in Hawaii that said "picture yourself in paradise" with an amazing photo of the campus near the beach. One year later I ended up in Hawaii. It's not always easy to do stuff like that but so fun when you do.

Jocy said...

That's wonderful.

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