Two Years of Home

Written by on December 15, 2017 in Americas, Asia, Blog, Expat Life, Expat Life Featured, Nevada, Spain, Thailand, UK - 8 Comments

A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.December 15, 2015.

I remind myself regularly of this date. When I’m up at night, my brain whirrs as I count the days, weeks, months and now years since I turned my back on expat life.

It seems like no time has passed at all, and yet all the time in the world has passed.

December 15, 2015.

It hovers over me at times, gently bringing back memories.

Lavapies, Madrid

The cobblestone streets I’d traverse in Madrid. The afternoons sipping tinto de verano. 

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The sunsets that turned the city sky pinks and purples at ungodly late hours of the night because we’re so far north.

London Underground

And, before Madrid it was London and the flat whites at the coffee shop down the way from the flat I shared with a friend. The wine nights with girlfriends. The freeing feeling of getting on the Tube and going somewhere entirely different. Being with other travel bloggers and bonding. The experiences of living a British life, complete with panto.

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand

And, even before London, it was the jungle. The elephants. The nuances of a Thai house free from glass windows. The odd expat family of Chiang Mai. The countless hours spent at cafes, chain-smoking and writing and writing and writing. The feeling I’d get on weekend afternoons when we’d be sitting outside, drinking Singha with old and young, and the skies would open and the rain would come crashing down on the tin roof, and I’d sit and stare at the strings of water falling from the roof to the ground, and think to myself, holy shit. This. Is. My. Life.

But then, there are the other memories.

The constant struggle to live in a foreign country (language, culture, visas). The flat in Madrid with the balcony door that opened to a cement wall. The days I’d go without speaking to anyone or seeing anyone other than the people in my Spanish class or at the gym. The lonely. God, the lonely.

The short days in London. The business that never launched.

The friends I’d made in Thailand and how quickly they’d turn their back or gang up on others. The smiles that shot daggers. The heat. The death I was almost constantly surrounded by, whether it was people or animals.

If anyone ever says to you expat life is unicorns and glitter,  they are lying. 

Expat life is beautiful. But, it’s also a struggle. A battle of good and bad that tugs at you, wears you down and then lifts you right back up.

On December 15, 2105, I decided I was done with that battle.

I wanted plants and pictures on the wall and to really unpack. To live somewhere I was actually welcome with no red tape, no culture clashes, no expat stress (because no matter where you go, there is always going to be some sort of stress).

It was a struggle. A sincerely hard decision because this site, d travels ’round, was built on my travels, my life as an expat. Giving up that status … did it mean giving up this site, too? Clearly, it didn’t …

But, that wasn’t the only struggle.

Leaving behind the world of expat life meant I needed to re-enter a world of life that is defined by having a decent income (hey, it’s pretty tough to be an American citizen, living in America, and doing the work I was doing without living with my parents and eating packets of cheap ramen).

However, I’ve always been one to leap and embrace. To put my faith in the universe.

So, I packed my bags and said goodbye to my Spanish life and the expat chapter which had long past worn out its welcome.

I decided to truly trust myself. To love myself. To listen to myself and not give in to the pressure of being identified as a travel blogger (which can be pretty damning since, hell, it’s who we are) and go home to Las Vegas.

Re-entry isn't always traumatic. Happiness isn't always hard to achieve. How does a happy mindset impact your existence and lead to a beautiful life?

I knew I’d land on my feet. I never imagined how beautifully the landing would be, though.

 

Two years have gone by and I’ve watched a bounty of travel bloggers, who started the same time as me, come to the same conclusion I did: it’s time to stop moving, to come home — whatever and wherever that home may be.

For me, home is Las Vegas. It’s been the only adult home I’ve known other than the road or foreign countries. It’s the place where I have a tight network of supportive people. It’s the place where the sun shines through my windows in my office and I’m warm. It’s the place where I look outside and see the beauty of nature reflected in the mountains. It’s the place where – after the shootings — I felt more tied to and head-over-heels in love with than ever.

Two years later, I’ve got a business which is coming into its own (totally humble brag, Vegans, Baby was just featured in the Los Angeles Times, thanks to the amazing PR team — one7 communications — I brought on to help grow my brand). I’ve elevated my writing career, not only publishing my first book, a guide to vegan food in Las Vegas, but also being a regular contributor to a local weekly magazine and other publications. I’ve dug my heels into the city in the best possible way.

And, I still travel. I make time for at least a month every year to explore the world, whether it’s heading to Mexico, back to London or checking out new countries (finally explored Belgium) and next year, I already have three weeks in Thailand and Indonesia planned.

Today, I define myself as Diana Edelman, the founder of Vegans, Baby, a writer, entrepreneur and truly happy person. It took a hell of a long time to get there, a shit ton of countries, hostels, dorm rooms, heartbreaks, tears … and laughter and love and beautiful journeys to corners of the world I never thought possible.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

8 Comments on " Two Years of Home "

  1. Alex Martin December 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm · Reply

    I can relate to making friends in Thailand. I grew increasingly frustrated with expat friendships. I think I was able to make it work because I could speak Thai and my work was focused on villages, so I built a lot of friendships that way. The thing I learned early on with living abroad was that identifying myself as an expat or traveler really didn’t mean anything to me: it was an identity based on location. The more important ways I identified myself, which was my purpose for being overseas: wanting to work to promote social justice, conservation, cultural preservation, and build cross cultural relationships, we’re deeper than the “I live in a foreign country and travel and that’s cool” thing I saw often in the travel community. I realized that purpose came from me, not where I traveled or lived. I can still see myself moving back to Thailand one day and I still spend a few months there a year, but I’d probably only do it if the professional circumstances were right.

    • Diana December 17, 2017 at 12:14 am · Reply

      I totally get that. For a couple of years, I identified myself not only as an expat, but by the work I was doing for the elephants in Thailand and my work in promoting responsible tourism. But, those lines got clouded and towards the end, I felt like I clung to the simple definition of “expat” and “travel blogger” versus anything else and it was tough for me to let go of. It took love for myself that I didn’t have then to overcome that and be ME. I’m headed back to Thailand this winter for a few weeks, but for a beautiful visit and then back home to my desert. <3

  2. Lauren December 15, 2017 at 11:55 pm · Reply

    I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m so freaking happy for you! Can’t wait to see you in Chiang Mai next year and hopefully — FINALLY — Vegas, too 🙂

    • Diana December 17, 2017 at 12:12 am · Reply

      I love you and am proud of you, too!!! Can’t wait for our reunion in multiple cities and countries, because that’s how we do things except in 2017.

  3. Eva December 16, 2017 at 1:53 am · Reply

    Hi Diana, thank you for sharing this beautiful Personal Post. About two years ago I too decided to finally move back home to Germany after seven years abroad. I Do not regret my decision, but I am still struggling. Struggling to find a job and therewith to fit in society. I lived my whole adult life abroad and now it seems All I have done and achieved at that time is worth nothing. Or at least it feels that way.
    Surely, 2018 is going to be a better year, I hope ?
    Anyway, I am happy all worked our so well for you and thank you for sharing this beautiful Post!

    • Diana December 17, 2017 at 12:11 am · Reply

      Thank you, Eva, for taking the time to comment. I understand the struggles, although I haven’t spent as much time abroad or as an expat. But, there’s a lot that goes through my mind being home. There were times when I first got home that I wanted to yell and tell everyone about the life I had just returned from, to honor it, keep it alive. The things you have achieved certainly aren’t worth nothing; they are worth more than words can ever express. We may never fit into society like those who haven’t experienced what we have, but we can make that work in our favor, especially when it comes to jobs — it takes a special person who is incredibly brave and strong to live abroad, travel abroad and make lives like that for themselves. Never forget that. 🙂

  4. Rose December 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm · Reply

    You have been such an inspiration to me, and I’ve loved following your journey over the last few years. You inspired me to go to Thailand and volunteer at Elephant Nature Park. I’ve come back and read your posts about returning to the US after long-term travel to help ease my own heartache after coming “home” again. Thank you for being so real and sharing this story, as it has evolved, with its ups and downs. I am happy you seem happy, and I look forward to seeing how your journey continues to go! Love and light to you.

    • Diana December 17, 2017 at 12:08 am · Reply

      Thank you so much, Rose! Your words mean so much to me. I know it can be tough heading “home,” especially if that desire to be home isn’t as strong as the desire to NOT be home. I’ve been pretty quiet on here the past year and that’s largely because I’ve been working on digging myself into life here, growing a business and living without much time to be introspective. I’m working on changing that this coming year and sharing more of my travel life — and life stationary — because I know we can’t all travel forever, and stopping isn’t easy. I hope I can provide some light <3

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