When Life Gives You Lemons...
I think the title of my last post was an understatement. Somewhat premonitory, if you will. I can hardly keep up with myself, so expecting anyone else to is out of the question. When I write, I often worry about the extent to which I should censor my life. I think up until now I’ve painted a picture of a mostly blissful adventure in a foreign land. I’ve skimmed over the more personal details, focused on the highs and avoided getting into the lows. Trust me, there’s been plenty of both. I think it’s safe to say the most memorable things we read or watch are the things that impact us on relatable, personal levels. The stories that are free of the sugar-coating that the majority of us sprinkle all over our social media lives. So that’s the approach I’m going to take as I attempt to explain the wave I’ve been riding.
I left off at the end of May, 3+ very long months ago. Mom had just left. My best friends were still here. My new job hadn’t started. I had a handful of days left with the girls before their June 1st departure. They stayed at my apartment for their remaining time in Bangkok, and it was really nice to have the company. We spent our time chasing ladies’ nights for free drinks, going to Chatuchak market, attempting to breach security around the famed Ghost Tower (epic fail), getting Hillary tatted up, and spontaneously bursting into tears. God, there were a lot of tears. Now, amidst all of this I had a night planned with someone I’d been seeing for the past 4 months. I knew we weren’t on the same page- my page being the one where I’m in an exclusive relationship and can call someone who acts like my boyfriend my boyfriend. So I decided to do something strange. There were 2 consistencies in my life abroad and those were my friends, and him. If I was losing one half of the equation, and I knew the other half wasn’t giving me exactly what I wanted, I decided I might as well take a hit and just let go of it all. It seemed logical- in a wipe the slate clean and rebuild from the ground up kind of way. So that’s what happened. I opened the can of worms, heard what I already knew, and we decided to call it quits.
My brilliant idea left me in a really, really bad place. My whole time here in Thailand I’d always had one or the other- the girls or the guy. Now I had neither. But it’s what I needed. I didn’t come here to depend on people. So I let myself have a week of feeling absolutely miserable. I started my new job right after everything happened, and this was a lucky thing. My days were semi-distracting and filled with cute but tearful toddlers. For 6 hours my mind was occupied. But I still felt lost. I did not enjoy facing the emptiness I felt every day when I made it back to my apartment, trapped in there with nothing but my own thoughts (and thankfully a laptop that could stream New Girl for hours on end!) I started to question why I was still here. I acknowledged and investigated those feelings and doubts and subsequently watched them slowly subside.
I’ve mentioned my friend Christa briefly before. This girl is some kind of earth angel because she has had a divine hand in just about every aspect of my life as it pertains to Thailand. Social, dating, career, living situation…you name it and she’s played a part. The unfortunate thing is that somewhere among all the aforementioned chaos, she decided it was her time to leave Thailand. Knowing she’d be here had been the silver lining to everything and I actually felt like life was playing jokes on me when I found out she was leaving, too. But again, it all goes back to starting from scratch. Apparently someone up there is quite adamant about me doing things on my own.
Christa has a lot of connections here in Bangkok. She is one bubbly extrovert of a socialite who makes friends wherever she goes, and I am truly blessed to have her for a friend. Now to preface this- there had been an ongoing mental battle taking place concerning what it is I want to do with my life. I came to Thailand to teach and to travel. It was, in essence, my escape from corporate America. So I taught. And I traveled (though not nearly enough to even remotely satisfy me.) Eventually it became quite clear that teaching would not be my future career path. That’s not to say I didn’t find it enjoyable, because there were aspects of my teaching experience here that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I just knew it wouldn’t be something I’d return to the states to do. When I moved to Bangkok and started job hunting, there were a mix of teaching jobs and corporate jobs available. I just started tossing my resume at them both. I’d hardly begun my search when the international school fell into my lap. Increasingly concerned about money, I accepted. It wasn't until Christa told me that she was leaving and put the idea of getting a job like hers (editor of a magazine here in Thailand) in my head that I realized I couldn't see myself teaching for a full year. The thought of a job like hers ignited something inside of me, and I just knew I wanted more. It wouldn't be fair to say it’s easy to do, but as a foreigner you can snag a job title and experience here that could take years of ladder climbing to get back in the states (I shall write more thoroughly on this topic later.) But having committed to the school, I decided I’d give it a fair chance. Suffice it to say it didn’t take long for me to realize it wasn’t going to work out.
To summarize, Christa put me in touch with a contact in the real estate field who was looking for an assistant. Requiring approval, he then ran me past his CEO. The CEO then decided perhaps he’d like to take me for himself. This was all fine and dandy, but, they picked a really interesting day to call me in for an interview. It was a Monday, and within an hour of arriving at school, the topic of 90-day check-ins came up in conversation with an administrator. That instant panic that sets in when you realize you’ve forgotten something realllllly important hit me. I’d completely forgotten to report, and was ten days overdue. I was excused from school and sent off to immigration. Unfortunately for me, my reporting office is back where I used to live…in Pathum Thani. So, I took a minivan back to the old stomping grounds. I then hopped on a cheap bus hoping it would take me near the office, as I now have to pay about $50 USD for overstaying. Google maps and my mediocre sign language skills did not help bridge the language gap, so I got off. Grabbed a taxi. More charades ensued, but I finally made it to the office. I needed an ATM so I asked the only foreigner around. His Thai wife piped up, "what bank? I'll drive you. No problem, no problem!" I proceeded to get into a car with a stranger marked "POLICE." Luckily, she did in fact take me to an ATM and not a jail/ditch/abandoned parking lot/brothel and then suggested we hit up a local clinic for a doctor's note to try to get out of my overstay fee. "No crime, no crime! Thai people flexible" she assured me, and drove us back to immigration to double check my penalty. Cut to her running around with my passport and rambling to several Thai officials and I miraculously received a 90-day extension, which the stern man running the show declared as he stamped it: "waive fee one time only, remember next time!" So it was on my way home from this fun excursion that I received a phone call requesting my presence for an interview that very same evening.
“Well I’m in a van headed back to Bangkok and I’m not exactly dressed for an interview” I warned him. “Don’t worry about it.” So as soon as I got back, I hopped on the skytrain and headed to Sathorn, Bangkok's CBD. Frazzled from my day’s adventures, I wandered into what turned out to be one of the most prestigious business addresses here in Bangkok. I checked in with security and took the elevator up to the 31st floor. The office was brand new and stunning. I was led into a conference room that offered an impressive panoramic view of the city. Bear in mind I had no idea what I was even there for- no idea what job I was even being considered for. But, such is life in Thailand. Fast forward 3 hours and I’m sitting in the neighboring W hotel, drinking champagne with 3 rather successful Thai guys, and verbally agreeing to take a position with them. It’s months later and I still have a difficult time describing the job I landed- but I was essentially hired to help with two start ups. The first is the start up of an American real estate franchise here in Thailand, the second is a start up investment fund. The office I interviewed in and in which I now sit belongs to the real estate company, while the investment fund stuff is more remote. The guys involved with the fund are all over the place, so most of our communication is electronic. This dual role was presented to me as a great opportunity for travel, considering their investments are focused on London right now, and just like that I found myself back in the real world.
A strange whirlwind of events followed. I gave notice to the school, who understandably was less than thrilled with me, and two weeks later I said my goodbyes. The timing worked out in such a way that I ended up with a free week between jobs. Give me time off and it will be used to it's fullest potential. So I went to Spain. It was the most spontaneous, last minute decision I’ve ever made (a pretty unique topic that deserves a blog post all of it’s own, so stay tuned.) And that, my friends, is how I came to be where I currently am, just a few weeks shy of my one-year anniversary in this crazy country. As life gets a bit more routine, I have a slew of ideas for more topic-specific posts. I get a lot of emails from people looking to teach abroad, so I’d like to do a comprehensive guide on how exactly I did that. Thailand also bounces between the #1 and #2 spot on Mastercard’s Global Destinations Cities Index, so I imagine there are people out there looking for the what to do's and where to go's and how to get there’s. Additionally, the travels aren’t over. I’ve got trips to Singapore, the US, and Italy in the foreseeable future, so there will surely be plenty to say about those as well as pictures to share. My future is a big, blurry mess and every day is quite literally an adventure, but I have to say- sure beats monotony.