Since arriving in Myanmar back in July I have not left, unlike many of my co-workers who have traveled out of country during some of our holidays, Kim and I had spent our time traveling locally instead. So I was unsure exactly how I would feel after being away for the three week winter break. Although five months is a very short amount of time, it allowed me to become accustom to the way of life in Yangon. I developed routines, was familiar with my neighborhood, and understood general customs. As much as I have enjoyed my time so far in Yangon it has also come with a great deal of frustrations, homesickness, and difficulties. So how would I feel upon returning? Unbelievably glad to be back.
Stepping out of the Yangon airport and telling the cab "Pearl-eh Condo" felt so relieving. Joy flooded over me as I enjoyed the "Welcome" sign made of planted flowers along the edge of Inle Lake. I knew this place. Even the consistent honking and crazy city traffic didn't annoy me. A smile held on my face as I relaxed in the worn leather backseat of the cab and held a short conversation with the driver with his broken English and my even worse Myanmar and I was so grateful to be back in this strange land.
I figured this uber happy feeling was short lived but as the weekend turned into the first week of school, it continued. I am just so appreciative to be here in this crazy, confusing, curious world. A world where plastic wrap doesn't stick to anything and each repairman requires four others join him and watch the process; a world where the post office is open but only allows packages to be mailed between specific times of the day and a world where there are no bus schedules or maps anywhere to be found. I am grateful because this is also the world where any interaction is accompanied with a smile; a world where you get candies at the grocery store in place of pennies because the small currency is so scarce; a world where a three course lunch will cost you less than two dollars and is always accompanied by rice or noodles.
I tried researching but was unable to find a word to describe the feeling that I have had lately. I wanted a single phrase to describe the complete contentness that has filled me since my return, the settled feeling of knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Unsurprisingly there is no one word to say how happy I am to be back in Myanmar, back in Yangon, back in my apartment. Although I don't have an attachment to a specific place here, I certainly have an attachment to what this place has meant to me. Adventures. New Friends. Challenging and fulfilling career. Fresh experiences. Worldly mindset. Artistic inspiration. Opening of opportunities. And so much more.
I'm sure this feeling will become less obvious soon as I return to the routines and schedules of day to day life. What I am also sure of is that this feeling will not leave, instead it will settle in me, resting deep in my soul. Because what this place has given me is not something that can go away, instead it becomes part of me, of who I am.