Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Stranger in a strange land....


You say I am mysterious
Let me explain myself
In a land of oranges
I am faithful to apples.

~ Elsa Gidlow

Things are becoming more stable around here.

V. has been sober for four months now, holds a full time job. He's not causing the kinds of crises that were a staple of this environment just four or five short months ago. D. seems to be reasonably healthy and content with her situation.

When I leave here, it needs to be during one of these "calm" periods. Trying to leave in the middle of a mess would be very difficult for me ~ and probably very difficult for D.

So I've been thinking...

What I need is people around me who think and live the way I do. I need to wake up each day and not feel "other".

During my remaining time here, before leaving for Thailand, I really need that. Badly. While I have some very good contacts on the Internet, other people who have chosen the same way of life I've chosen, it would be better to be surrounded by like-minded others in a community. People I can see and talk with over a table. People I can share a meal with. People who will share some of the same milestones. People I can share things with on an everyday basis, not only through typed words.

That's not to say I don't value Internet contacts. I do. The Thaiphile community is very small and there are several of us who have contact only with each other ~ and only this way.

One person though did take it a bit further. She moved from suburban Dallas to a location closer to a Thai wat. Since she made that choice, she is surrounded by others who share her values, who believe as she believes and people who "get" her without explanation. She is finding her place in a community that makes sense to her. She is in the flow of life instead of separate from it. They share customs and habits, holidays, values and standards. Without realizing it fully, I've been very hungry for that. Really hungry.

I am going to be following her path. Through the Thai Embassy, I have gotten a list of every wat in this country. All I have to do is choose one.

I'd love to go to Berkeley but it's out of my price range. I might choose Texas. There are actually several possibilities so the only thing I need to do is investigate the cost of living in each area and choose one.

Loneliness isn't the problem. Not entirely. I'm such a loner that it rarely enters into my life at all. Just the same, I would like to have the option of choosing aloneness when I want it. It feels imposed on me now. What's missing, what feels so isolating, is the fact that I do live a different type of life, think differently, dress differently, value different things and often have to explain to others. Defending my way of life is tiring. I explain to those who care enough to ask. By that, I mean there are some who respect other cultures enough to bother asking. Those people, luckily, I count among my friends.

Most of the time though, I wander through each day feeling foreign and odd, not able to really connect with others around me because we simply don't think alike. At all. The greatest downside is that most people I meet just automatically assume that I believe as they do, that I value the same things. That increases my sense of isolation as I either go along with it or remain alone.

I am not certain what the time frame is on my getting to Thailand. An unqualified projection would put me there by next summer. Still, that's a year away and until that time, moving to a small community of those like me would probably be rather refreshing and comforting. It will be reinforcement of my way of life instead of isolation.

~*

31 comments:

Christine said...

what an exciting journey! Keep us posted on the next steps. Do you think the move would be rather soon?

QT said...

Chani - I see this as an exciting - and logical - next step for you.

At least being in Texas will get you ready for the ~HEAT~ you will experience once you get to your homeland.

I can't wait to hear all about it!

Snoskred said...

This sounds like a brilliant idea and perfect for you.. ;)

I also think it will be good for D and V to get used to your absence but perhaps you can still stay in touch with D by phone if you wanted to?

Moving is not a great deal of fun but if you are moving somewhere you want to be, it can be inspirational.

It's a shame Berkeley is out of your price range. Have you checked on craigslist, or places like that? ;) I'm thinking if that is where you really want to be, what are the chances of finding a small place to let there for a good price?

Cheers,
Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

My Reflecting Pool said...

I think its a hard choice you feel you must do. Its kind sad to think you feel so out of the loop as often as you do. As I wish you well in these options ahead of you, I feel I must say that you are dismissing a lot of people who may very well care but don't express it in a way you'd like. Personally, I can't imagine feeling as you do and sincerely hope your move and desire to go somewhere you feel you must turns out as well as you want it to. If nothing else, you are embarking on a great adventure.

ThomasLB said...

What part of Texas? I've lived in Dallas and Houston, and currently live sort of in between, so I might be able to answer a few questions to help you make up your mind.

Keep in mind Texas is proud to call themself a "low tax, low service" state. If you've got money, this place is great; if not, it can really suck.

slouching mom said...

I think that is a fantastic idea!

Cecilieaux said...

I agree with everything said above and more. Just don't leave cyberspace. I'd miss you.

painted maypole said...

What a positive direction you are headed in!

Mary said...

Chani,

I hope you find your niche, real soon. I think you are headed for success.

Emily said...

This makes perfect sense. I am so excited for you that you have come to this decision.

flutter said...

Perfect, Chani.

meno said...

"most people I meet just automatically assume that I believe as they do, that I value the same things"

Perfectly said.

Wouldn't it be a better world if all of us started our relationships with curiosity instead of assumptions?

I look forward to seeing how this plays out for you. How exciting.

mitzh said...

Follow where your heart takes you!

I love this post..specially this,
I'm such a loner that it rarely enters into my life at all.

Wishing you all the best...

thailandchani said...

Christine, I'm not exactly sure when it will be. The pieces will come together and I'll know it's time. There are a few things to finish up here first.

However, today I've spent quite a bit of time on the phone (thank ghu for free long distance :), calling some different wats to gather info.

~*

QT, I haven't absolutely chosen Texas at this point.. but am trying to remain open to whatever presents itself. Visalia is on the table right now for a few different reasons. It's not all that far from here which means I wouldn't have to change bank accounts, etc. Visalia's a pretty little town in California.

~*

Snos, luckily moving for me will be fairly painless. All I need to do is rent an SUV for the day.. and the move will be done. I travel light. :)

~*

Reflecting, I am not dismissing anyone. I value the friends I have. It's just a hunger for people who are like me, people who don't have to try to understand me. It's not either/or at any rate.. and I'll still keep the friends I have now.

~*

Thomas, the woman I know who did this lives in one of the cities outside of Houston. As for money, I don't have a lot... but enough to get by.

~*

SM, so do I. It's just time, you know? Dealing with isolation is difficult ~ and I'm weary of it.

~*

Cecilieaux, it will actually enhance my cyberspace experience. Maybe I'll have more to discuss when I'm actively involved with a community. It makes a big difference.

~*

Maypole, I think so. Really. I do.

~*

Mary, I hope so. It can't be too awfully difficult when I will be surrounded by a community that understands me.. and whom I understand.

~*

Emily, thanks. :)

~*

Flutter, it is at least a logical solution. :)

~*

Meno, yes, it would be a better world. The people who are assuming about me aren't doing it out of any malice. They just can't imagine how I can be so different.. and mean it! It's not something I'm doing for attention. I mean this. My culture means the world to me. It saved my life. I'm tired of not having that understood.

~*

Mitzh, thanks. :) I am not a lonely person by nature because I am such a loner.. but, still, choice is always a good thing. Around here, I don't have that much choice unless I want to give in on some things that really matter to me.

~*

Thanks, everyone :)

Back to the phone :)


Peace,

~Chani

bohemiangirl said...

Chani, I totally understand what you mean. For years, I jumped around from place to place because I found the anonymity refreshing, it seems it allowed me to be myself. I say jump. I know you will land ever so softly wherever you go and that community will be most lucky to have you.

Julie Pippert said...

What a really great idea...a good step. I wish you loads well as you choose!

If Texas remains on your list, allow me to disabuse you of any notion of "cheap" living there. Cars are required. Insurance is HIGH. It's a Republican state, with all of the lack of human and consumer support and services inherent in that.

Surely there is a place in...Oregon?

Good luck...I can't wait to hear the next bit. :)

Julie
Using My Words

Julie Pippert said...

Oooooh Meno just said the coolest thing I've heard in a while:

"Wouldn't it be a better world if all of us started our relationships with curiosity instead of assumptions?"

Love that!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This sounds like the logical next step for you, Chani. I think it's a great idea.

I think you should look into Berkeley before dismissing it out of hand. There may be some sort of related commune there that could be affordable while surrounding you with the kind of company you crave.

(Admittedly, I have an ulterior motive.)

Snoskred said...

I'm going to live that, Meno, as I'm moving into this new community. In fact can I borrow that as a future thought of the day? I'll email you in case you don't see this.

I crave that community too. As different as we may seem to be in philosophy etc I read your post and truly feel the same in my life. Since we moved here we haven't met too many people other than work related people.

The place I am moving to is a much smaller town, probably about 2,000 residents. So far I've met a few people and they have all been lovely. They have a community association and I am going to attend their meeting next week to try and meet as many of the locals as I can. People are always out walking, chatting to each other as they pass one another.

I want to get involved and maybe do a little volunteering there, we'll see. It's a bit crazy at the moment with the moving.

Yes, I definitely don't travel light. I still have the TV I bought when I was 16, with my first earned money. I can't bear to part with it, because I worked so hard to earn it. We don't need it, we have plenty of tv's!

My home is made up of me, and the things that I love. The outer shell is not so important as what's inside it. Things that make me feel happy to look at them, things that have memories, things I enjoy.

I think maybe as I get older the things will get less important. I don't know. Right now this is me, and I'm ok with it. ;)

More important than the things is The Other Half and my kitties. The Other Half went to Sydney yesterday for a training course, and I was here all alone. When I got up this morning one of the kitties seemed to have disappeared! I was walking from room to room calling her. She had found a great hiding spot and was watching me panic about her absence from her cozy hiding place with great delight.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Janet said...

It sounds like you know what you need to do. Can't wait to read about the rest of your journey!

thailandchani said...

Bohemian, thanks. :) I also have a similar history. This is the first time I am going somewhere with the intention of creating a community.

~*

Julie, I really don't think Texas would work for me.. for a variety of reasons. It's not that I wasn't willing to consider it but it probably wouldn't be a good match for me in cultural terms. Even at the wat.. although I can't say for certain.

There are three wats around Houston apparently.. and the woman I know goes to the oldest one. She's retired, too, so she doesn't have to put up with a lot of the Texas attitudes. You know... so she likes it alright.

~*

Susan, perhaps I can call the Housing Authority there and see what they have available for low-income. I hadn't thought of that.. but it's worth a call. Berkeley would probably be a fairly good match for me.

~*

Snos, that sounds like a good plan, to get involved with your new community. People who are associated for work purposes.. you know.. they don't want to get involved in any other arena. And their thinking is always work-based.

I used to have a whole house full of "stuff" but gave it up after I was divorced. It was amazing how free I felt. The stuff that matters most to me can fit into a large carry-on.

The rest of it can be tossed in boxes or shipped.

~*

Janet, it should prove interesting. :) As exhausted as I get on the phone, (at least those kinds of calls) it should happen some time next spring. LOL

~*

Peace,

~Chani

crazymumma said...

I would love to know what living on/in? a wat would mean for you. You know, the everyday.....

so curious as to how it would change you life.

crazymumma said...

I would love to know what living on/in? a wat would mean for you. You know, the everyday.....

so curious as to how it would change you life.

thailandchani said...

CM, the answer to that is rather complicated.. but to keep it short, it would mean that I am surrounded by people who understand my passages, my customs, my way of thinking ~ even things as mundane as significant days. It would mean that I have a community where I don't have to explain certain things, the way I do where I'm living now.

My cultural change isn't just about clothes and external effluvia. It's a heart change.. a new way of thinking and living.

Unfortunately, Sacramento doesn't offer much reinforcement. It doesn't provide what I need to be truly involved with a community. It doesn't offer me a place to go where I'm just .. understood.

It's all rather complicated, I know.. and perhaps one day I will do an entire post on this.

:)

Thanks for asking.


Peace,

~Chani

jen said...

for some reason your post just showed up in my reader now.

it makes total sense to make this next brief move. one step closer, a clearing of the mind, and edging into your future community.

i can absolutely see you doing this, Chani, and it feels really good.

blooming desertpea said...

These are great plans! However, I need some help from you as I am having troubles to imagine the setting you'd be living in. Am I on the right path if I picture an american town with a greater Thai community?

Gwen said...

I love Meno's comment, too, about approaching new people with curiosity and not assumption. I wish much success and wisdom for you, Chani, as you make this move. And I can't wait to hear about what wat living is like!

thailandchani said...

Jen, I have to say I'm not too impressed with google reader. I've been using it but the delays annoy me. I'll probably stop. By the time I get to most of the posts, there are already a gazillion comments..

Yes, it is a logical next step for me.

~*

Gwen, I wish Meno would write a post about that. It was a good thought.. one most people don't even really think about until someone says it.

I'm looking forward to the move.. in a way. I'll be happier when it's over and done though :)

~*

Peace,

~Chani

Snoskred said...

I read my own blog with google reader and most days the delays are maximum 30 minutes.. but then sometimes it can be more. However I am using feedburner and it pings quickly every time I post. Maybe I need to write something about pinging - that's how to stop the delays.

Another option is to put some of the ones you want to keep an eye on into one folder of bookmarks in firefox, and then "open all in tabs" - just don't put 15 in there at once, if you have more than 10 make a couple of folders. :)

Cheers!
Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org

Wayfarer Scientista said...

I saw a t-shirt once (in German) which read "Everyone is a foreigner/ outsider somewhere" and I thought of it reading your opening quote...because it meant more then that, it meant that inclusiveness and outsiderness is also a matter of how we precieve. And sometimes it may look like on the outside that you are an outsider to Thailand, but maybe on the inside you aren't.

Sober Briquette said...

This sounds like a great option. I hope it becomes a reality soon.