Sampai jumpa

Well it’s been a good ride. Our time in Indonesia is up and we’re headed off for some new adventures in the world.

What can I say to sum up three years? Three years of exploration, cultural learning, good laughs, new friends, amazing places, and curious creatures. Also three years of frustration, illness, anxiety, homesickness, lost things, broken things, and too many goodbyes.

I remember a conversation we had years ago, before the thought of moving to Indonesia was even a speck on the horizon. B and I were sitting at the dining room table and talking about our long-term plans – Where was I going with my career? Where did we want to live? How do we escape the rut we felt like we had fallen into? That was the night that moving abroad came up, and at the time I think we both imagined living in some kind of European countryside, eating baguettes and drinking espressos in a provencal cafe.

I started applying for jobs – Paris, Vienna, London – and when the perfect job came up in Indonesia, I applied for kicks more than with a real consideration of what I might do if I actually got the job.

Well, as you know, I did get the job, and we had to very quickly decide whether we were the type of people who would sell their house, quit their stable government career, and pack up their two young kids on a whim to live in Indonesia – a country that I am ashamed to admit I couldn’t even pick out on a map at that point. It turns out that we are those people.

Friends and colleagues called us ‘brave’ or ‘crazy’. Family was torn between being thrilled and heartbroken. We were feeling all of those same things in equal measures, questioning: Were we being unfair to our kids, taking them away from home and family? Were we abandoning our family when they might need us close to home? Were we crazy for giving up a house and comfortable life in an enviable city? On any given day, the answer might have been ‘yes’ to at least one of those questions. But the thrill of the unknown was too hard to ignore. Off we went.

And now? Three years later? We have no regrets. I would make the same decision again in a second.

Sure, our kids have missed being close to home, but Skype is an amazing thing. Yes, our family has missed us, and we miss them every second of every day, but everyone is coping and we have all found ways to make up for the absence. Of course our life is more unpredictable now, without a stable household or home city, but I’m starting to see that was part of the rut we got ourselves stuck into.

And the gains have more than made up for it. In three years, we’ve seen more beaches, sunsets, volcanoes, temples, turtles, boats, malls, elephants, thunderstorms, rainforests, airplanes, and monkeys than I ever could have imagined. We’ve been to nearly a dozen countries, learned a new language, saved up some money, collected a houseful of teak furniture, made lifelong friends.

And it turns out we didn’t travel to the unknown, we just discovered that people and life are the same around the world, give or take a few amenities. We aren’t brave or crazy, just willing to take a little risk and I think we have more than reaped the rewards.

Mohon maaf, Indonesia. Sampai jumpa!

Photo: Thecayas about to set off an overseas adventure in 2012!

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