The end of the journey is in sight. And while I'm excited to go home and see friends and family, many for the first time in over a year, there are a lot of less fun things that need to be taken care of. Namely: doctor's appointments, finding a job, and figuring out where I'm going to live. (But actually, don't hesitate to get in touch if you know anyone who's looking to hire a pastry chef). I try to push these obligations to the back of my mind, but their gnawing presence on my to-do list can make it difficult to enjoy the present moment.
My first night in Kuala Lumpur I hadn't planned on going out; it had been a long travel day and I wasn't feeling too social. If I wasn't already tired of repeating the same introductions to new people a month ago, now it just feels like a hassle. I don't try to come off as bored or antisocial, but after recapping my life story, goals and travel plans countless times it's a bit impossible to say it with the same enthusiasm that I had in the beginning. I wish I had a written out personal statement that I could just hand out like business cards for people to read on their own time.
After checking in and eating dinner, I pulled out my iPad to catch up on emails and freelance stuff. I opened Facebook to answer a message from the girl I'd watched the boxing match with in Bangkok, who had some questions about cities I'd already been to. Turns out she was online too.
"You're in KL?"
With location tracking enabled, it shows the sender's location under each sent message. Incidentally, she was staying in a hostel just up the road from mine. We met up shortly after at the Central Market, where she'd spotted a batik artwork store that lets you paint your own pre-drawn design. Even though we only had thirty minutes to complete our masterpieces before the shop closed, it was still pleasantly calming. Therapeutic, even. She seemed equally pleased about our fortuitous reunion since she, too, had reached a level of social fatigue from meeting new people. (If I hadn't turned up I think she would have just gone to paint alone).
The hardest part about making friends as an expat and traveler is knowing that, inevitably, one of you will leave the other behind. So seeing a familiar face again; someone who gets you and who you can have conversations with that aren't just probing questions feels like something pretty close to fate. It's happened before in Spain and Morocco, where I saw people again whom I had originally met elsewhere. Clearly, we were meant to be friends.