How do you go from a humdrum life to a point of no return?
As I’m typing this, I’m sitting on my bed in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Next month I’ll start in a new job as a software engineer (this is my day job). Hali is staying in the Philippines, as he’s got a career in animation and photography there.
How did I get here, you ask?
Last summer had been a difficult time. I’d gotten depressed. There’s really not much point talking about it now, just that it happened. I spent most days in my sister’s apartment in Mandaluyong, sleeping for hours (or not at all) and eating chips. I’d stopped doing meditation and waved off the Wesak celebration. It was really bad.
I believe that when you’re in a situation similar to this, something unexpected and good usually happens. You decide you’re no longer in the right place (and I don’t mean literally) or you need to change your life. Not sooner or later, but now.
In one of those days of bumming, a recruiter called me for a job opportunity in Malaysia. The recruiter saw my resume online. When I could not find happiness even in things I used to enjoy, something lit up.
Malaysia, Malaysia, Malaysia.
How do I describe I felt then? There was a momentary peace, as if the crazy thoughts in my head decided to calm down and go into a quiet flow. There was a small voice saying, that sounds right.
I didn’t pass the first application. After 3 weeks, I got accepted to a job as a software engineer in a different company. I’d started with the paperwork for moving abroad in July.
Now here, this is the part I wanted to tell you friends about.
There were a couple of hiccups when I was completing my requirements (e.g., lack of appointment slots in DFA for passport renewal, etc.). My flight date was moved a few times. So instead, I spent the last few weeks at Hali’s house. I love staying at their family home, which is located inside a large compound surrounded by trees. It didn’t feel like I was in Manila at all, but rather a quiet reprieve in another province. During my stay, we took care of his puppies and newly adopted stray kittens. When both of us weren’t busy with freelance projects, we’d stay in their sala and watch Netflix series and movies. We’d sleep late, wake up late and then go outside for a walk sometime in the late afternoon. It was a routine.
Andy from The Office once said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I was so caught up with the paperwork delays that I didn’t immediately realize I was in the good days.
When all was smoothed over and I had finally booked a ticket, the fact that I would be living abroad finally started to sink in. I would be in a foreign country, alone. I wouldn’t see Hali for a while for practical reasons (money, work schedule), and whatever rendezvous we’d have would be limited to days-long vacations.
I cried for a few days before I left.
I told Hali about my first time abroad, a 2-week stay in Singapore on a summer when I was in college. I was visiting my sister. After the first 3 days, I felt an immense homesickness and wanted to rebook my return flight to an earlier date. What if the same thing happened on my stay in Malaysia?
He reminded me that I’m a different person now and that the universe will somehow make a way to bring us together soon.
I will hold on to that.
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).