Leaving a place you love takes courage and faith. A few days before we leave Chiang Mai and I have all of those familiar doubts – most times, just low grumblings that appear in the hours not quite late night and not yet early morning. What if we don’t like our next location? What if this was the place for us? Why are we leaving if the seeds we have planted are just starting to take root?
This last week for us has been – and will be – full of goodbyes to our favorite restaurants, cafes, night markets, activities, and people. To the ease and safety and gems of this place.
I still remember day one in Thailand.
Stumbling out of our new house, eating at our first restaurant, the jet lag so all-encompassing. For Chris and I, that annoying friend that you just grin and bear to the other side. For the kids, so new and overwhelming that they could barely stand. Remade into depressive toddlers, wobbly legs, fog, and emotional swings. And now, I watch them, confidently buying things, bartering, speaking basic Thai, adopting mannerisms and social customs, avoiding all types of vehicles and walking with intention, appreciating the heat on their faces, and the noises that surround.
Emmet said to me last night as we dodged the gazillion people in our last Sunday night market, “Is this trip a once in a lifetime thing?” I responded, “Well, you never know, but we probably won’t ever do a full year like this again in the same way.” “Why did you decide to do it,” he inquired. And so I told him the story. Not for the first time, but it must have been something about leaving Chiang Mai, and his ears perked, like the budding nostalgia had already penetrated something in him.
“I just love it. So much creativity, each stall with its own art and food.” And he kept on inquiring, about my growing up and if I did a trip like this as a child, and how we came to the decision to change our lives so dramatically. In the chaos of people and noise and smells and sweet desserts and the array of potentially unmet needs, he drew himself into the poignance of him, us, and this setting.
I often wonder if we have helped our kids develop a sense of gratitude that will ease life's navigations, and perhaps even more so, imprint a deep and sustained knowing of serendipity and magic. And here it was! I paused and shared in the gratitude arising through him.