Leaving America

I guess I finally have to sit my butt down and write about my life in general and my experiences in Thailand. Why? Well, in part it's because it's just something I do and in part because I promised people who, for some strange reason, seem to like reading the stuff I write. If only someone would pay me to write it, now that would be cool. Hmm, maybe I should revisit the novel I had started to write more years ago than I want to think about.

My last couple of years have been surreal. Two years ago, I was living in Chiang Rai, Thailand as a trial run to see if I really wanted to live in Thailand, something I have been considering for several years.

[DISTRACTION BREAK: As I write this, I am listening to Internet radio on Jango.com and the song Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills, and Nash just came on. I had to take a moment and relive the 70s and, of course, sing along.]

Where was I? (Yes, I know where I was, I'm writing on a computer for heaven's sake.) I was in Chiang Rai with the rainy season waning and winter approaching. Life was easy and fun. I had friends who I spent very enjoyable time with. Winter surprised me though. I'd been in Thailand during winter before but only in Bangkok and there the season only meant less oppressive heat during the day. In Chiang Rai, it got cold, really cold. I had brought only hot weather clothes, light shirts, shorts, no jacket. Add to that that I am a giant here in Thailand and my sizes don't exist in the stores so buying a jacket or even a sweater was not an option. Oh, and I should mention that the nice house I was living in was uninsulated and drafty; I could see daylight between floor boards in the bedroom.

Obviously, I survived and I even enjoyed the experience overall. And after eight months of living there, I decided that I did, indeed, want to live in Thailand. I didn't get to complete my trial year though. It was interrupted when first my dad died and then my younger sister followed not long after. After ten and a half months, I returned to the US but to Arcadia, California, not to Oregon. I had to settle my father's estate. This was a really big task made easier when I found that one of my dad's friends was thrilled to take just about everything in the house. She and her family came in and took many car and truck loads of furniture, household goods, appliances, and miscellaneous stuff. They were happy to get it and my sister Cindy and I were happy to be rid of it.

Money does strange things to people. In my case, it caused a major rift in my family that I suspect will never heal. Fortunately, my sister Cindy and I only grew closer through it all. We got through it and sold my father's house and that allowed me to return to my home in Oregon.

With the decision made to make the big move to Thailand, there was a considerable amount to do to make it a reality. Here is a partial list:

  1. I had a software business that I needed to something with, including decisions about customers that needed to be handled as nicely as possible.
  2. I had an office building with furniture and other office stuff.
  3. I had employees, friends actually, who would soon no longer be my employees.
  4. I had a home to do something with. Sell? Rent? Decisions, decisions.
  5. I had a lifetime's worth of things most of which ultimately had to be gotten rid of.
  6. I had to coordinate everything so that, for instance, I didn't sell my house leaving me with no place to live while I did everything else.
  7. I had to close accounts and set up some new ones.
  8. I had to arrange for a US address to handle things that needed that.

For me, it was almost overwhelming. One of my coping mechanisms is to procrastinate and that's what I did for several months. I had set myself a soft deadline and as it approached, I knew I couldn't put off dealing with my task list for ever. So "eventually" caught up with me and I went into low gear. Yeah, not high gear, not yet.

I made a rough time line with no additional deadlines but with an idea of the order in which things needed to happen. I cleaned out my office building, selling what I could and giving away the rest. I became a frequent poster on Craig's List. I had a landscaper clean up the outside while I worked on the inside. Then I put the building up for sale by owner. It didn't take too long to sell but I priced it for less than I really wanted. Plus, it was a cash offer which is what I wanted.

With the building out of the way, I tackled my home in a similar fashion. I had two garage sales (three if you count a Saturday and Sunday sale as two sales) and again put things on Craig's list. I couldn't get rid of everything because I needed furniture and decorations to make the house attractive for potential buyers. I was surprised at some things that sold at the garage sales and discouraged at things that didn't and even disgusted at the low-ball offers I had on some things. I told one guy I would rather give it to a charity rather than accept his ridiculously low offer and that's exactly what I did.

Many things were difficult to get rid of. I had family albums with old photos and memorabilia. My own albums and memorabilia. Nobody wanted them and I didn't want to cart them to Thailand so they went in the trash. So did my high school yearbooks. Lots and lots of things went to thrift stores. They got to know me pretty well at the Humane Society Thrift Shop. I also took things to the ARC thrift shop and Vina Moses thrift shop got all my tuxedos (I had three though I didn't own a traditional suit).

In selling my home, I once again did the sale "by owner" and got an all cash offer for a very good price. The buyers were eager to move in and I was eager to move out, perhaps a little too eager. We had a short closing and that meant I needed to go into super-high gear to get rid of the furniture and everything else. (Remember, I had a life-time's worth of stuff and I was what I like to think of as an accumulator and though the word "hoarder" was never spoken aloud I wouldn't be surprised if it crossed more than a few minds.) I also had to decide what to take with me to Thailand and to pack it all.

I don't know how I got it all done but I did. It was down to the last few hours of the last day that I finally made it. I had some very welcome help from friends (Mark, Lonna, and Jean, you are truly angels). I was both physically and emotionally exhausted, and it struck me that I was now a homeless orphan. Kinda weird to put it that way.

Of course, being technically homeless didn't mean I had no place to stay. My new base was in Salem, Oregon with my friend Joy. I had just over two weeks before I departed my home country. I first flew east to visit and say farewell to relatives in Ohio. Returning to Oregon I drove from Salem to Vacaville, California to Rancho Cucamonga, California to Boise Idaho and finally back to Salem. I saw lots of friends and family and it was wonderful. Back in Oregon, I spent a few relaxing days with my friend Joy in Salem. The drive was about 2,500 miles. Most of the trip was relaxing and all of it was good for my state of mind.

My final sale was my car and I gave it up one day before departing at last for Thailand on my birthday, August 15.

Next time, I'll write about getting settled in Bangkok.


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