I think it was in Bali when I finally started to feel OK about myself. I don’t know if it was because of the beauty of the place, the wonderful people I met, or the fact that I was finally getting used to travelling alone.
I remember arriving in Kuta and still feeling a little awkward. I got off the plane. It was almost midnight and I still had to get to my hotel. I made my way to the taxi stand and thought that the trip from the airport might cost me a little more than I expected, but I was in my shell. There was no way I could have asked someone to share the cab with me. There were groups of people waiting for a taxi, but I was too shy, or maybe too tired, to ask them to share a ride with me. So, I went alone.
However, from then on I went through a transformation.
It started from meeting my lovely Sylvia and spending time with her. I met people on the way, who allowed me to be myself, who I could talk to about my life and my problems. I believed in God again and, as cringy as it sounds, I made peace with him/her. I learnt (and still am learning) to live in a moment and enjoy my surroundings, to let go of attachment and to be with myself.
Why I couldn’t do it all in London? I really don’t know…. Maybe because after the divorce I associated my surroundings with the pain of my broken heart? Maybe I needed the change, I needed to leave my old life and to start a new one, far away from everything? I am grateful to all my friends and family for helping me out during the hard times, but I think I needed to learn how to be me again.
A few weeks ago I arrived in Chiang Mai. I was nervous. The TEFL course was starting in a few days and I was a bit worried. I was going to meet new people and spend most of my free time with them. I was starting a completely new chapter of my life.
I got off the bus from Bangkok at 6 am and caught a taxi to my hostel. It was freezing cold. I was sitting at the back of the van with 7 other people. We made our way to the town, dropping the passengers one by one. The driver had difficulty with finding my hostel and I was the last one to get off. While we were driving through the streets I was looking out the window. The town was waking up. The markets were opening, people with the scarves and masks around their faces, to protect them from pollution, were driving to work. Barefoot monks were trotting through the sleepy streets, collecting their food, which they would have at midday. The air was misty, humid and cold.
I checked into the hotel and went to the local market to pick up some food. I stopped at a small street stall, where some locals were eating. I pointed at one of their plates and indicated to the seller that that was what I wanted. I sat down at a table and waited. I looked around. The street was full of cars. Song Teaws (local taxis) were speeding past, not paying any attention to the people trying to cross the street. Some monks in their bright orange saffron walked by laughing. Sellers at the neighbouring stalls were talking to each other loudly. Their stock – huge, red dragon fruits and sweetly smelling mangos – looked even more delicious in the hot, scorching sun. I smiled to myself. ‘This is my town now’ I thought ‘this is where I live’.
The next day I started the course. The school turned out to be in a nice area with a great number of local bars with meals costing 30 baht or less.
Since then I have met lovely people, went to some crazy parties, visited temples and went for a weekend to Pai. The course has been intense and stressful. I am exhausted, but yet I am enjoying myself. I have to stand in front of people and teach them. I have never done it before and I feel really awkward doing it. It is so out of my comfort zone. Regardless, if I like being a teacher or not, I know that this experience will give me a lot and will make me even stronger.
Soon, the course will be over and I will look for work. I am excited about what the future may hold for me.
As for today, I don’t miss London and I don’t miss my old life. My broken heart has healed somewhat. I stopped looking desperately for someone to be my second half. I am enjoying being single, I am enjoying my own company. When the time comes I will meet someone special and I will share my life with him. Until then, I will love every minute of my new discovered independence.