On the Lam, So to Speak

A friend of mine observed that I seem to be constantly shifting my belongings from one remote locale to another, constantly boarding airplanes and making detours and side trips, lamenting the places where I am and quickly evacuating places I profess to be residing in permanently. She asked, “;Are you running from something?”

“I just left Singapore again. It’s a complicated story.”

My response was to laugh it off, but it was a canny line of inquiry. I mean, to travel around as much as I do, I must be running from something, right? It would certainly appear as if I was living the life of some sort of fugitive, crisscrossing continents in a pretzel-like trail of temporary residences. At this moment, even my belongings appear to be on the lam: one shipment of my goods, sent around Christmastime from the States, is still heading West over the Pacific to Singapore. Another shipment, sent two weeks ago, is heading East over the Pacific, from Singapore back to the States. Surely, that’s as ridiculous an itinerary as one could ever imagine for one’s basic household goods.

Let me backtrack here and also use this as a segue into the revelation that I’ve left Singapore, this time for good, I think. Here’s the story: the business imperative that drove me out there (originally in July of last year, and again this past January) kind of fell apart in the way that business imperatives often do in market downturns like the one we’re experiencing right now. Which is to say that the scenario in Singapore changed on me almost immediately after I arrived, and I suddenly found myself without a lot of work to do and very little in the way of a professional challenge. So I spent a month wondering aloud where my career was going before deciding to accept an offer from my boss to take an assignment in Los Angeles (a city for which I have no great affection). After finalizing the details and taking a quick trip to Thailand, I packed everything up and shipped it off. It’s been about two weeks that I’ve been back now.

I might have stayed, but to be honest the cultural thrill that I expected to breathe in and out every day in Singapore was illusory. This isn’t meant to offend the handful of very kind friends I made over there. It’s just that, as far as Asian countries go, well Singapore was a little too similar to Orange County, California for me. With neither professional nor cultural satisfaction of any great substance, the whole endeavor felt like spinning my wheels. So I figured, what the heck, I may as well be close to the real Orange County, and get a real professional challenge while in Los Angeles for a few months while I’m at it. I still hope to return to Asia to live and work one day (maybe when I’m done here), but after so many fits and starts, the place and timing just seem painfully forced. That plan is deferred.

So, back to the question, am I running from something? Let me get back to you on that. Right now, I’m headed off somewhere…