“Firsts” are always something to get excited about. They are markers of time and of life: first kiss, first car, first boyfriend, first job.
Usually, they are special memories surrounded in puffy white clouds and sparkles when we think back on them.
“Lasts” are more bittersweet, at least most times, for me. Every so often I will do something for the last time and think, “YES! Thank You! Never Again!” But those moments are few and far between, thank goodness.
I recently finished up my stint as an expat in Indonesia. Although two years abroad isn’t an incredibly long period of time, it is interesting how easy it was to get into routines and life schedules. Daily life was very different compared to the USA, but for the time in which I called Indonesia my home, that life became usual, common, natural. Saying goodbye was difficult because I had grown accustomed to certain things I was sure to miss from time to time once I returned to northern North America.
As the weeks counted down, I was cognizant of every “last” that came up. I was happy to submit my last grade…considering I had to enter 5 scores for each of my 1,100 students. I paid my last months rent. I scheduled my last dentist and spa appointments (two extremely cheap things that I had to take advantage of while I still had the opportunity). I acquired my last souvenir. I said goodbye to my last student. I gave some belongings away to make room for my most important items and memories, and then packed my suitcase for the last time.
There will be no more student greetings or farewells, no more high-fives, no more belly laughs over the ridiculously funny things these kids said. There will be no more birthday serenades, no more seas of beautiful brown skin, hair and eyes attentively waiting for my tongue twister warm-ups and group games.
No more thick pollution, but no more extremely cheap cost of living. No more traffic, but no more roadside food stalls every five feet.
I am happy to be back in the West, with family, appreciating the beauty of Winter, but there are many things about the East that I will miss. The people were very friendly and incredibly hospitable, the shopping was cheap and the weather was always tropical.
Maybe one day I’ll get to go back and revisit some of my close friends and continue traveling around the country. I’d love to check in on my kids to see how much they have grown and learned in my absence. That will be a treat.