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The chronicles of two Portlanders in Singapore

Full disclosure, I was never sure where it ended.  I never had a plan for this blog.  This was always off the cuff, allowing spontaneity and free-flow writing to take over; a recollection of each week, as I settled in whatever pattern felt right for this project.

The pattern of course fell apart with our repatriation.  While I had five weeks in corporate housing, much of that time was spent preparing for the hectic month of November; we moved our stored stuff back into the house, then our shipment from Singapore.  We made up the house with the bare minimum needed to host my parents, Bev’s father, my sister and her husband and their two kids.  And then, three days after Thanksgiving, we took everything out, ripped up the floors and put in a new floor in nearly the entire house.  This is what we do.  Bev and I, and I’ve mentioned this, bought a house, got married and moved to another state within a month.  We moved to Asia and back.  Apparently, easy is never in our eyes.

And the house is beautiful.  Garrett of Walk the Plank Floors did an amazing job.  Bev and I have wanted a new floor since we bought the place.  Apparently, “on time” is not often in our realm either.  But it was worth the wait and the hard work getting stuff moved and new base boards on — more importantly, it was hard work for my dad, who stayed an extra week to help us get all the base board cut and some new lighting fixtures installed.

Honestly, dad, I can’t even adequately think of the words to thank you enough.  You did an amazing job.

So now, after three weeks since I last posted, we are back where we started — changed for sure, but in our familiar house, with new stories for the same neighbors and friends and maybe just a hint of that crashing roller coaster in the horizon as we look at each other and laugh about how we both want some roti prata.

Full disclosure, that’s not all that happened in the weeks since the previous entry.  I let go of one of my most closed guarded secrets.

I never knew what the ending of this story was going to be.  A friend once said “you write your own endings” and she was right, but I still, in my way, wanted to wait and see what the experience of expatriation would be.  Let the experience dictate to me what the theme would be.

Still, I should have guessed.

I established in the first entry of this site the metaphor of Beverly as two “roses”, a play on phrasing as two denizens of the City of Roses.  I wrote about how transplanting those flowers can encourage new growth, so it should have been no surprise that’s what this blog settled on as a theme.  Being an expat is to encourage growth, maturity and embrace change.  I focused on the change; working on my writing, writing my novel, experiencing new cultures and learning more about the world around me.  I didn’t expect to let go of so many fears.

I vividly recall the feeling of lift off in the Milford Sound, remember the ground dropping out under my feet as “The Boss” took us up in her helicopter and the Southern Alps slid under my feet as we climbed hundreds of meters in mere seconds.  I smile when I recall my fear melting away.  I knew I wasn’t cured of my acrophobia, but rather had a handle on it.  Suppressed it, faced it and found that it, like all fear, is only powerful when we give it that power. So I learned something  — something that had nothing to do with people on the other side of the planet or because I stared back into the dim recesses of history and gleaned some unknown perspective.  No, I just learned something new about myself.  I suppose this too should come as no surprise; when you strip away what’s familiar you can’t help but notice new things within you.

This may be the most powerful recommendation I could have for travel.  The things you learn may have nothing to do with dates or great leaders or wicked policy.  They might just, after thousands of miles have left your soul raw and ready for learning, be just as simple as finding your fears being not nearly as unsurmountable as you once thought.

I have this fear.  I have several fears, but one has ruled them all since before I even knew what it was that I dread.  Back when I was younger, I knew something was wrong but couldn’t define it.  When I did finally define what it was that I had become to fear, it was that definition that I guarded.  I put up defense after defense for people discovering what I had learned.  I lived my twenties in a state of constant hyper awareness; petrified that someone would discover my secret and always incredibly so cautious with my words.  But, really, as I began to explore what this thing meant, I realized what I had truly feared was telling my parents.  That fear — of parental discovery — has driven me to divide my spheres of contacts up, segregate my actions, and even in the early days of social media, selectively share my activities, especially as I got more involved in LGBT rights and social justice.

So, this Thanksgiving, when the topic came up with my mother, as it does every now and then, I didn’t deflect.  I didn’t tell a half-truth as I am so adept at doing.  I spoke the whole word that has driven my soul to shrink and my heart rate to rise and I admitted for the first time to my family that I am bisexual.

The rest of the discussion isn’t for here, isn’t for you.  Sorry, that’s just how it is.

But in terms of what it means to this story, as I went through various states of freaking out over “holy shit I just came out at Thanksgiving — 20 years too late, too”, I realized that this moment only came about after nearly two years in Asia, living out, being out, never writing much about it — because who gives a fuck about that when we’re talking about thousand-year-old temples and drinking beer and eating on a street corner in Hanoi — and coming to the conclusion that, hey, this is silly.  Just put it out there.

Get in the front seat of the helicopter, jump on the zip line, walk through the remote island infested with cobras.

Eat the durian.

Carpe churro.

Full disclosure; this is it, folks.

With this post, I close the book on an exciting chapter in my life and look forward to the next stage of my life.  Sure, I have regrets.  I wish I went to Laos.  I wish I had more time in Asia.  I wish I went to the Singapore Writers’ Festival more.  I could have tried durian earlier and developed more of a taste for it.  I miss my friends in Singapore with a longing that will never fade.  Everything’s not peaches and roses.  There are more discussions to be had, more fights out there, more challenges.  I have a book to finish and a job to find.  Life isn’t like fiction and doesn’t move in perfect acts of conflict tension and resolution.

And, hey, don’t cry.  I’ll still be writing.  I’ve shared the new site that I started on this summer — A Few Different Words — I’ll be writing there.  I’ll be working on the book.  I’ll be keeping a weather eye out for new projects, new contests and of course, a new writing group.

And I’ll still be traveling.  Bev and I have already started on plans to travel more around our own country and Canada, learn a bit more about the people in the wide expanses of North America.  Maybe travel some to Europe or South America, and of course I’ll be writing about what we see, what we learn.  There are always more lessons out there.  Carpe hagis and what not.

And maybe there are no real endings anyway; but for this site, there is.

Thanks for reading.

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