The perfect storm in 10.07.08
I never imagined it would eventuate, but a perfect storm of a broken heart
and a stunned career growth made me rethink the confidently inveterate expat existence.
In the winter of 2008 on the 10th day of the 7th month, I did something unthinkable: after 14 years living in Australia, I upped and moved back to Malaysia. 3 days after I booked my ticket to KL from Melbourne via Sydney, I was stuck in transit on Jetstar, ground bound for 4 hours before I could say “low cost carrier”. I guess I felt done with Melbourne – the city crowd, working in the night scene, the lattes, the Tsubis, the summer flies, the non-hair friendly erratic weather. I loved Melbourne (and still do), but I pined for KL.
At that specific juncture of my life, I reckoned a new beginning back home would satisfy my never-quite-assuaged lust for excitement and adventure. With my city apartment left in the care of my sister, mails directed, bills sorted, laptop packed, too many jeans, questionable tops and not enough undies and hair products to last me for at least 3 months, I boarded a one way flight – with no set plans. I went from expat to ‘locat’ in 8 hours (excluding transit and flight delays).
When you’ve lived equal amount of time abroad and at home, the concept of home is somewhat blurred. Expat and Locat, I’m a bit of both in either geographical milieu. There are two types of expats/locats (however you look at it)– the Assimilator, who become part of his new culture, and the Wallflower, who lives in expat ghettos, shop in expat supermarkets and never quite grasp the local lingo.
Reaching KL, I immediately established a very ‘native’ life. Unfazed by the gapes, gawks and judgment, I threw myself into it, mohawk + tats + Sapphic embellishments and all- spicy food, late night suppers, day time runs, happy hours, shorts, skirts and shirts *the tropical weather helped*. I met old friends, cultivated new friends, shopped my Australian $’s away (note to self: currency exchange should not comfort and encourage unnecessary expenditures), danced to Carl Cox, pashed, dashed, lapsap-ed and inevitably did some brain, liver and bank damage.
Two months into my return, after satiating my new found freedom and carefree lifestyle, I started my first official job in Malaysia in f&b/fashion marketing and freelance writing; a huge leap from working in clubs and fashion merchandising. I have since habitually traveled around Malaysia and Asia. In the coming months I’ll be going to further regions and this new ignited freedom and passion to travel is fueling the sense of thrill in my life (thanks to competing air fares).
It’s been exactly a year (10.07) since I’ve returned from Melbourne, and it is no surprise why I intend to stick around. To friends back in Melbourne whom placed bets on my return – I apologize for the loss you made from the seemingly beneficial acquisition. You thought I wouldn’t last my rebellious, culturally pampered and westernized ways. Well, you guessed wrong! I’m now a born again Assimilator in KL, eating in open air hawkers, cabbing, squatting and spurting lingos with the ease of a local street-market merchant.
My Australian PR requires my return in 2 years time and although I am at liberty to go ‘home’ whenever I please, I’m quite happy where I am at the moment. I’ve met someone amazing, fortified my new found joy for my freelance writing vocation, made a precious group of amazing friends (old and new), have acclimatized to a new world of consumerism like F.O.S, Daiso and 4 Ringgit meals (I will never again be seen at Vic Market buying a pair of fisherman pants with the glee of a naive tourist paying 500% at cost price).
In all seriousness though, the best occurrence of all is my current metaphysical journey of the ‘self’ with the Universe around me. A journey that I believe I would not have discovered if not for the train of events that unfolded, leading me to the present.
So this entry marks my one year anniversary with my new life I’ve built for myself. Who knows where life will bring you. You just have to take a plunge knowing that whatever comes your way, the outcome is the product of what you make of it. The trick is to look back and have no regrets. What.So.Ever.