It was 9am. I was sitting in a bustling café with a glass of iced coffee, my laptop and a notebook, trying to finish at least a page of writing when a call came in. I strained to hear the person at the other end of the line and tried to speak loud enough so they could hear me, but not loud enough for people to eavesdrop on my conversation. From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a guy peeking at my laptop and felt my personal space was invaded.
It is now 8am. I’m sitting on a rocking chair out on the porch with a glass of iced coffee and a notebook. I’m smelling the dew from last night’s rain and filling my notebook with the written word while the dog lays by my feet. My phone vibrates on silent and I put the caller on speaker as I enjoy my morning coffee. After the call, the only things I hear are birds chirping and leaves rustling in the breeze.
I moved from a concrete jungle in a major city in Malaysia to the deep south of the United States. Why? That’s a story for another day. Was it easy to adjust? Mostly yes. With life moving a little slower here, I found myself appreciating the intricacies of my surroundings a little more. I understand that I was moving from what is classified as a “developing country” to an already “developed country”. My experience may be amplified by just that, but it is an experience with no regrets.
I notice miles and miles of mountains, trees and farmlands instead of worrying about squeezing into a bottleneck road and hitting other cars. I see wildlife, flowers, hear cicadas and smell the freshly mowed grass instead of smelling smog and hearing the blaring of car horns.
I feel safe and welcomed when I walk into a store. Despite my skin color and being in an area with a majority of Caucasians and Mexicans, I feel at home. I no longer need to lock doors around here. My internal alarms aren’t going off when a stranger talks to me. I don’t feel the need to clutch my purse tightly as I’m walking through the parking lot.
When our car broke down, all we had to do was call an Uber for a ride home. I called the tow truck, had them bring my car to the nearest workshop and the mechanics fix my car without the worry of being overcharged. I did all that in the comfort of my home and the assurance that they were taking care of my car. I could not have done that where I came from. I would have had to watch the mechanics like a hawk in case they switched parts on me.
Public transportation here is almost nonexistent. The Uber car took 26 minutes to get to us even though traffic was light. It took us 21 days to have a satellite installed so we could have cable TV. We’re still working on the internet provider. I no longer spend hours browsing through shopping malls. I now spend hours relaxing by the lake and admiring the clear blue waters.
I always knew there was something special about the country. Now that I’m here, I don’t think I’ll ever adjust to the city life again.
Also published on Medium