The Hardest Part About Traveling for 16 Months

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The biggest challenge of traveling and working abroad for such a long time is not jet lag, financial management at home, nor even Traveler’s “D.” We aren’t falling behind in our careers, nor have we tired of so much movement. Occasionally, we get misty-eyed for certain creature comforts or familiar foods, but these are small things, all of which were easily found during our couple of cush months on Thailand’s tourist trail (first-run films in Bangkok; bagels and lox in Chiang Mai!).

No, without question, the only part of home that we actually miss is our families and our friends.

Their lives do not stop while we are away, which for us, means many, many babies being born. So, while Tay and I create and encounter our own brand of excitement on the road, we are acutely aware of the excitement we are missing at home—little fingers, little toes, new mommy/daddy faces on so many old friends. And it’s not just births and weddings either, but over a year’s worth of family gatherings, Sunday barbecues, friends’ small problems, open mics, etc.

We don’t dwell on it often, or even talk about it, but it’s always there.

I know that in a few years, these times apart from our people will be memories, triggered perhaps by somebody producing a yellowed postcard with my handwriting from some dusty corner of India, or by looking up at a carefully displayed Sri Lankan batik above our couch.

Right now however, if I get up and spend time with Sabah in the Toppass kitchen, maybe, in that future-looking-back space, I’ll be able to conjure a past-wave with a plate of spicy lentils, tongues on fire, fistfuls of rice on their way to put out the flames. But only if I get up and let Sabah teach me something.

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