Every time you meet other expats in Malaysia you inevitably ask each other about "your story"...where did you live before? what brought you here? how long have you been here? how long do you plan on being here? Our inability to fully answer these questions has made me think we probably need to do some explaining about "our story" and the circumstances that led to us finding a temporary home here in Southeast Asia. (Plus, I was inspired by THIS girl telling her story...it is much more riveting and heartbreaking and well written--go read it, I dare you to not get hooked--but I need the writing practice so bear with me.)
Michael was working in the wholesale mortgage industry in Utah when I met him in 2003 and from that day on he always talked about getting out. I encouraged him, even before we were married, to follow his passion (I'd heard that phrase enough from my dad growing up to repeat it as a mantra) and make a full-time job out of currency trading, something he had taught himself years earlier. Because of his "survivalist" nature he was continually on the look-out for warning signs in the economy and not very long after we were married he became increasingly panicked about the state of the housing industry and the security of his job. We had been subsisting on our 2 paychecks while I was working, but when our first son was born and I stayed home full time, we became concerned about a 100% commission salary as well as a teetering economy. Because I am blessed to have a husband who was watching and saw the handwriting on the wall, we sold our beloved 1st home in the spring of 2007 right around the peak of the housing market and temporarily moved into my parent's house while we figured out a plan. Our original plan of Michael going to graduate school was not to be and in time our thoughts naturally turned back to his trading.
From the beginning of our marriage he had been working 2 full time jobs, one of which was during the twilight hours, so the phrase "burning the candle at both ends" applied to him quite literally. His trading followed business hours of different countries with different time zones, which required him to be awake for most of the night. I admit to resenting the amount of time he had to work, taking him away not only during the day, but also causing him to leave my side at night. I knew it was for our benefit but the strain began to be too much on him, on his health, and on our relationship. At the urging of my father, Michael somehow found the courage to leave his corporate employment in the mortgage business and turned his focus solely to currency trading. How he did that, I'll never know. I can only imagine the stress and enormous pressure of supporting an entire family and the intense worry that would come from leaving your job to pursue a dream. I'm afraid I would be immobile with fears of "what if this doesn't work, or what if I can't do this?" and what would happen to the family. But he is one amazing guy and if I wasn't sure that he could do whatever he wanted in life, I wouldn't have married him. But I did. And he can.
Although we were enjoying our sudden freedom from debt (BEST feeling in the world, hands down) we obviously couldn't live in my parent's basement forever. So once we had decided on the self-employed route we began making plans to find an apartment in Salt Lake, preferrably one with rent profoundly less than our previous mortgage. Things didn't quite seem to be clicking and we struggled to figure out our next move, when, once again, my father raised an interesting question...we knew what we wanted to do, WHERE would be the best place to do it? We hadn't looked much past the end of our noses, but he suggested getting a fresh start, away from our old routine and away from any habit Michael had developed working 2 jobs. Start a new business, start everything new. And since our biggest obstacle was the time difference (he was still working hours for different continents, which left me husbandless at night and left Michael in a foggy stupor the rest of the time), here's an idea, why not move to a time zone where you can work normal hours???
We had previously talked about moving to the east coast, which would only make a 2 hour difference on the clocks, yet 2 hours would be better than nothing. But here was an exciting prospect. Move to a different country! Live overseas! My heart leapt with joy at the thought, but-- no, it was too fun, too adventurous, too exciting to imagine. Live overseas?!?! Give ourselves whole-hearted to this project and put everything into it to make it work, and if it didn't at least we could come home with some great stories. So after a lot of discussion and a lot of prayer, thus began our first baby steps to getting out of the daily grind and into self-employment, getting out of our routine and ready for a fresh start, and getting out of Utah to...somewhere? That would be the next hurdle, although they all seemed like short, stumpy little hurdles after those major ones, and within 4 months of closing on the sale of our house we were on a plane with our 1 year old boy and 6 pieces of luggage to Asia.