I had drafted this a while ago and debated whether to post it or not. It feels too private. But as my tag line is “an honest look at life on the road”, I don’t want to leave out significant developments in my journey. This is the story about why I’m leaving KL after a year of calling it home.
When you’re living in a city you’re not from, the #1 question you get is: “What are you doing here?”
Sometimes I don’t feel like explaining, so I’ll say I’m working here (that’s what they all assume anyway since I live in a local part of town). Sometimes I feel like a chat and I’ll tell the truth: I came as a tourist and met a local boy. Sometimes, it’s just some variation of “I just like it here”.
But more and more, I’m not so sure anymore.
I have a, shall I say… complicated relationship with Kuala Lumpur. For most of the past year, it has been home and I’ve been happy there. But lately, more and more, I can’t quite shake this naggy feeling that I no longer belong here.
I fell in love with KL because of a boy. Yes I love it as a city. The food is amazing, the living is comfortable, the shopping is great (seriously, my travel wardrobe has quadrupled), the people are nice, there’s no language barrier, and the city has endless surprises. But I mainly loved it because he lived here.
It was a whirlwind romance, as travel romances tend to be. When faced with a short time frame and the possibility of losing someone they’re not ready to lose, people tend to take wild swings and give it their all and hope it’s enough to alter the path. And in our case, it did. I stayed in KL to see where it could go. The months we were together were some of the best. I’ve never felt so adored and loved.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go far. Before the end of the year, it had disintegrated from a passionate love to a silent indifference. More specifically, the breakup was his decision and he did it over text, while I was away on a trip I had already planned. I was shattered but I understood his reasons, and so, all I asked for was one last face to face conversation when I got back to KL. Yes of course, he said.
So I returned, and waited for him to clear up a spot in his busy schedule for me. And waited. And waited.
Weeks passed and he never made time for me for that conversation. And so I could never get the closure I so desperately needed.
And yet I still waited.
In the meantime, I tried to move on. I was anxious about returning to KL because my entire KL experience had been with him. He showed me everything I knew about the city. I barely had one KL experience that wasn’t tied to him in some way. I was scared that without him, life there wouldn’t be the same. The city wouldn’t feel like home anymore.
So I did my best to seek out new KL experiences. New friends, new activities, and even new dates. I discovered so much more about the city, met really cool people whom I can consider good friends now, and formed new memories.
But always in the back of my mind, I still waited to see him one last time.
Even as the weeks passed and he either never contacted me or made half-assed plans with no follow through, I still refused to believe that he was anything but the most loving, caring man I had ever known. So still, I waited.
But still, it never came.
And then inexplicably, he just stopped responding at all. Like I no longer and never have existed in his life.
“What do you think if I just go over to his place one day, when I know he’ll be home?” I asked Rachel one day (who thankfully had come to KL to spend Christmas with me). I needed closure and wasn’t getting it and didn’t know what to do anymore.
“Well, it’s definitely a little crazy,” she said. “But if you have no friends in common and you just want to talk and don’t really care what he thinks of you anymore, then sure.”
No, we didn’t have friends in common. Yes, I wanted to talk. But yes, I also care what he thinks. At this point, I still thought so highly of him and I wanted him to think just as well of me too. I didn’t want to be the crazy ex-girlfriend.
(Side note: why is it always cute and romantic when someone shows up on someone’s porch/fire escape/workplace in movies, but it’s creepy and stalker-ish if it happened in real life?)
So I scrapped that idea. And slowly began to accept that I was never going to hear from him again. While also slowly accepting that maybe he’s not the person I thought him to be.
And when I was ready, I wrote him a letter with everything I wanted to tell him. I needed to give myself closure. I never heard anything back. It was well and truly over.
I think I stayed in KL because a part of me was always waiting to put this chapter of my life to rest. Almost like it gave me a reason to linger there. But I’ve realized that I’m going to have to finish it myself and write a new story. I still don’t know where it went so horribly wrong and there are still so many why’s. But this isn’t the place to look for answers anymore. There are none to be found.
So when I realized this and grew restless, I made plans to leave KL. This place that used to feel like home now carries too much heartache. By physically moving on, I’m also letting myself emotionally move on.
And now with this post, I’m finally closing the book on this chapter. For good.
Don’t worry, I’m at the point now where I’ve made peace with everything and I’m truly ready to move on. I’m ready to fill blank pages with new adventures. And when I come back to KL (because I’m positive I will), it’s going to be because I genuinely love this city, and not for any other reasons.
The healing of the heart process is slow, but there is nothing like new travels and new adventures to lift the spirit. For now, I just know it’s what I need to do.
Get ready – there should be plenty of pictures and stories from new places soon!
I’m currently on Penang and trying to plan out the next few months. If you’re a solo traveler, how do you decide where to go?