Tonight, I felt oh so normal! It was the first night I went out socially in the 3 months since I've lived in Chiang Mai, not counting the women's prayer group I joined 2 weeks ago, and not counting the dinners I have had with coworkers (which have been delightful, I should add.)
I describe myself as an "outgoing introvert," so I don't have a problem connecting with people. However, in Chiang Mai, it's been challenging breaking into the community. I have found that surprising.
But a few weeks ago, at church, a Kiwi lady came up to me and asked if I were South African. I looked South African to her, which I find rather funny. I'm not sure how we look... She had wanted to hear if I would be willing to connect with another South African who had recently been in an accident here.
I never got to meet the South African person, but the Kiwi and I got together for coffee, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was sad to learn that she and her family were going back to NZ at the end of this year, but appreciated her reaching out to me regardless. She's the one who connected me with the women's prayer group, too, and who invited me to her birthday bash this evening, where I met many other foreigners.
I always, always value having local friends. But I also know the importance of having some friends who understand the joys & challenges of cross-cultural living. And so, I enjoyed meeting other foreigners tonight, and to meet the husbands of the ladies from our prayer group.
But a few encounters from the evening had me wondering if I'll ever really fit in with the foreign community here. Maybe I don't want to. I just want some friends with whom I can laugh, share some meals, and process learning.
Little by little, oh-so-slowly, that is starting to happen through the mix of community from work, church, and through friends of friends. And little by little, I'm starting to feel a bit more normal.
And for that, I'm thankful.