13 May 2013

An Expat's Ennui - The Real Reason I Won't Ever Live in Vancouver Again

I ain't making any apologies. 

Here is a maudlin little sentiment spawned by red wine, Fleet Foxes, heartache and impending departures:

It seems like the speed at which Kathmandu and I are ending our relationship is increasing at an alarming rate, and despite my whining and complaining about this city in the dead cold of winter, I don't think I am quite ready for my time here to be over. The boy on the bike may be long gone, but in the meantime I have made some new amazing friends, said goodbye to some old ones and realized that - unequivocally -  I. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. GO. HOME.

Listen, we all know that I cried like a baby in February, faced with the daunting number of months between me and the comforts of Vancouver - the food, the familiar faces and the friends who know what a fucking weirdo I am and who love me despite (because of?) it. I then said "fuck it" and booked a fantasy vacation in March,  spending money I should have saved for grad school to help pass the drudgery and ease the ennui of the Kathmandu cold. And then I spent April enveloped in the drama and romance of a new boy, one who was destined to leave and break my heart a little bit (let's just say "thank god!" that valium is over the counter in this country).

But now it is May. Now I am nearly finished my report on voluntourism and how it relates to the abuses perpetrated in orphanages in Nepal. I now know how to ride a motorcycle and I am itching - absolutely itching - to stay and ride across Asia. Tempted to apply for one of the myriad UN/Red Cross/VSO jobs dancing at my toes, enticed to stay here, in a country where I can make a difference. 

Itching. To stay. To stay and be in Asia and maybe work and maybe travel and just. fucking. live. Because living here feels bigger and scarier and more important than anywhere else. Fuck you, Edward Said - this may be Orientalism, but it sure feels intoxicating. It feels like sex and death and life. My own home country feels like rules and boredom and should. I hate should.

Vancouver, my hometown, seems like a cemetery in comparison to the weird thrill and excitement of every moment on this continent, the dirtycrazybiazarre landmass on which I am convinced I was supposed to be born. 

Don't get me wrong. I love my friends. I love my family and I am thrilled to be able to see them. I am aching to drink a Starbucks iced tea lemonade and to eat sushi and to wear teensy weensy short shorts and guide walking tours and guzzle triple hopped IPAs on Beer Island. BUT. buuuuuttttttttt......

The four months I will be home between Nepal and grad school in London feels like a step backward. Like a hiatus between this - my real life - and grad school, which is a mandatory precursor to the next phase of my real life. 

I can say with confidence that I will never permanently live in Vancouver again. I need to go there now to guide and serve and sell all of my belongings and make as much money as humanly possible so I can live in London (which is financially still up in the air - who wants to help pay for my Masters?! WHEE!) where I will gain the skills and the piece of fucking paper that makes me a legitimate candidate for UN jobs.

And c'mon - I love my city. I love the beaches and the food and the history, but the baggage and dysfunctional personal relationships that follow me around, attached to my neck like a pillory? No thank you.

I would rather be in Phnom Penh or Hanoi or Addis Ababa or Ankara or Guatemala City, trying to make a difference, protecting the built culture of world heritage and trying to stop the exploitation of locals in the name of tourism. And a pretty big part of me wants to stay right here in Kathmandu, eating at OR2K, working on human/childrens rights and spending my Friday nights romancing travelers and dancing at Purple Haze to hard rock cover bands, the taste of cheap local vodka lingering in my mouth. 

But that is enough complaining - which I always seem to do. I do miss Vancouver. I am excited to see the mountains and the ocean and my friends. I want to eat at Tacofino and drink Parallel 49 beer and ride motorbikes with Tara and cuddle with Christina and hug all of my pals. I love my city. I love my mum.

I have big beautiful tattoos of the Marine Building and a dogwood to remind me of where I am from. But really? My heart isn't there. It hasn't be for a while. I don't belong in Vancouver.

It's the real reason some of us are expats - it's the curse of a vagabond. I'm a wanderer. I won't be happy in one place - I need to go everywhere. I need the stamps in my passport and the wind in my hair and the roadrash on my knees.

Come meet me along the way.


ihaq1111 said...

valium is really not the answer to heartache...and u can easily do your masters in kathmandu university...i did not know there were so many UN jobs out there...people had better start getting back to kathmandu...hope the street children and the those in happy homes are benefiting from your expertise...

Tonia said...

As I told my daughter not long after her dad and I had split, and the whole concept of 'home' had been turned on its head for her: your home is wherever you are, it is you. Vancouver, Kathmandu, London, Iceland, the Moon, doesn't matter.
Every phase, every place is your real life - enjoy them all!