29th May will be my last day with Agoda.
Finally, 3 years and 4 months later, I’m moving to Hanoi.
Back in 2017 when I started this blog, I envisioned a solo move as a nomad teacher, living from one freelance assignment to the next. Independent, geographically mobile.
I had no concrete plans, only vague ideas of what I could be doing and where.
And, you could say unsurprisingly, those ideas never got fleshed out as life took hold. I shifted lanes, moved to Bangkok, went from one corporate job to the next.
But, 3 years and 4 months later, it’s finally happening. I’ve quit my job. I have Evernote to-do lists, the first few items of which are already prefixed with tiny green ticks.
And all this because of a pandemic.
Let me explain: my partner and I always planned to move in together this year, as 2020 is the year I complete my term with the Thai government, whose scholarship terms which I signed mandate that I reside in Thailand for the equal amount of years I spent studying abroad.
More precisely, 4th July 2020 is the last day of my bond, my very own Independence Day.
So we both always had a vague idea (why are ideas always vague at the outset?) that in the summer of 2020 we’ll move in together. First it was next summer, then it became this summer. But it was never concrete.
Until Corona happened.
Back in March, my partner spent a weekend with me in Bangkok. On his flight back to Hanoi, where he lives and works, he happened to sit a few rows away from someone who would soon test positive for Covid-19.
This unhappy circumstance led to him being whisked away to multiple government quarantine facilities, where he spent his days in discomfort and angst – if he hadn’t caught the virus from the lady on the plane, surely living in such close proximity with fellow quarantined individuals would do it.
Fortunately, when he was released 14 days later, he was free of Covid-19 and was able to return to a new normal of working from home and lockdown.
This whole episode sparked a chain of thoughts in my mind. How uncertain life is. How strongly I wish for us to be physically, not only emotionally, together.
So, little by little, I edged toward the decision. First I thought to myself: this is it – it’s happening. Then I told my manager. Then I told him. Then I created the first to-do list. Then I told my parents.
With each task, each widening of the circle of those “in the know”, the decision seemed more real. First it felt right, then it felt scary, then it felt anxious, then alright, then sad, then exciting.
On 17th April I decided I’d leave my job at the end of May. On 20th I told the team, on 21st I submitted my resignation. That was that. With a few clicks on the HR system, I left my stable, well-paying job which just under 5 months ago I was raving about on this blog.
But I’m fine. No – I’m excited.
Excited at the prospect of a new life together, at hitting pause and re-looking at my career up to now, at deciding which career path – or paths – I want to take as I begin my Vietnam chapter.
Last month, I launched my tailoring-inspired English tutoring service and immediately acquired 2 paying students through word of mouth from a dear friend. Which is great.
This month, I received a mega project from my subtitles translation company which – in one go – will give me half the salary I was earning at Agoda. Which is also great.
I don’t deny that these 2 lucky strokes are majorly responsible for fueling my excitement. I’d probably feel more anxious about being officially unemployed without them.
But I’d also like to think that, with or without these fortunate events, I’ll be just fine. We’re in the midst of a pandemic. Borders are closed until who-knows-when. And companies aren’t hiring.
But I know now what my destination will be.
Vietnam, I know I’m a bit late, but I’m coming back to you. Just you wait.