By Troy Headrick
It occurred to me, about a week or so ago, that I had an anniversary coming up. On July 3, 2015, I arrived back in Texas after living seven years in Cairo, Egypt. That means I’ve been in the United States, my home country, exactly six years.
Of course, I brought my Egyptian wife with me. She didn’t come on the same plane because, at that time, she wasn’t an American citizen. She remained back in Egypt until we got her “green card” paperwork together and submitted it to the American embassy in Cairo. Azza, my wife, then flew to Texas about a month or so after I’d returned. Shortly after her arrival, I landed a job in San Antonio, a city with enough people to make it the seventh largest metropolitan area in the country, and the two of us relocated there.
In less than two weeks, I’ll be flying back to Cairo for the first time since I left the place. I’m really looking forward to the trip and to seeing all my in-laws. There is one more thing of note about my upcoming trip: It will be the first time I’ve left America since 2015.
I have mixed feelings about being back in the United States. If the truth be told, I didn’t come back because I missed the place. I returned to my birthplace to reconnect with family after having lived as an expatriated American for nearly two decades. My aging parents have health challenges, and I started feeling like a bad son for having been away for so many years.
There was a time in my life when I was much more nomadic. Back in the day, I’d relocate to a new country about every three or four years. This lifestyle provided me with the opportunity to live in various locales in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
I have a philosophy of life that goes something like this: Moving around a lot keeps a person nimble. This is especially true if one resides in places that are very varied. Being exposed to a new language and culture every so often keeps the mind fresh and alive. One should also welcome surprises. For example, in all my relocations, I never once visited a country before I moved there. I wanted to experience culture shock in a very visceral, in-your-face sort of way. An occasional jolt to the system keeps a person awake and alert. Some spend their lives seeking comfort and safety, two things which are highly overrated. I’d rather be out there, in the crazy world, having new and strange experiences. And taking lots of risks.
I guess the world is made of up of two kinds of people—those who value putting down roots and those who prefer being rolling stones. I certainly count myself a member of the latter group.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I’ve been feeling very restless lately. I certainly do value being so near loved ones, but I’m thinking more and more about pulling up tent stakes again. And I’ve been talking, in very serious ways, with my wife about this.
The COVID situation has been a godsend in at least one way. It has showed me a path forward. Having worked remotely for more than a year, I now realize that a person can travel lightly when traveling for professional reasons. All one needs is a good laptop and a bag to carry it in. Also, there doesn’t have to be this hard line between traveling for pleasure and going abroad to make money. What’s not to love about that?
By the way, Happy Independence Day to one and all!
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.