Do Ho Suh, Home within Home within Home within Home within Home
Flip a coin.
Pack your stuff, quit your job, say goodbye to your friends, and move to a city eight thousand miles away.
A little bit of background. I’ve lived in the United States for over three years, and in that time, I’ve been incredibly lucky. Few international graduates find companies willing to sponsor their work visa applications. Fewer still are genuinely excited about what they do and where they live.
So I’ve been lucky – and I’m about to test that luck by flipping a coin.
I’ll spare you the details about the application we’ve been working on for months now. If you’re interested, check out the excellent chart below. I took the liberty of circling my current position.
Long story short, it’s come down to a lottery.
60,000 visas. 120,000 applicants.
 I’m aware that it says 85,000 in the chart. There are 60,000 that I’m eligible for.  I know, I know – it’s the perfect setup for another numerically-themed Tumblr.
I’ll get my answer by the 30th of September. Until then, there’s not much I can do about it.
“But Ian,” you say. “You’re going HOME. It’s not exactly some random city on the other side of the world.”
True. But it’s not quite as straightforward as that.
Let me explain.
I haven’t been back to Malaysia in two years. By the end of this year, I won’t have lived there in almost four.
In the time since,
I’ve had 8 addresses across 3 states. Partied in 32 cities. Been a part of 8 and a 1/2 dance crews. Written 5 blogs. Bought and kept 52 books, 28 jackets, 11 ties, 4 bow ties, and 4 pocket squares. Participated in 2 startup weekends. Attended 6 conferences, and tried and failed to organize 2 of my own. Taken 5,978 photos and recorded 1,135 videos. Written 1,103 notes in my Evernote account. Experienced 1,275 sunsets, and significantly less sunrises. Had my heart broken 2 and a 1/2 times. Performed at 4 Korean Culture Shows. Performed 3 songs at public karaoke night. Performed 1 spoken word piece. Rolled up to the club in a pizza car 1 time. Been kicked out of a club 2 times. Won 1 Beerlympics. Recorded 582 reasons I’m glad to be alive. 11 of which contain the word ‘conversation’. 7 of which contain the word ‘friend’. 5 of which contain the word ‘rooftop’. 4 of which contain the word ‘spontaneous’. 3 of which – for some reason – contain the word ‘whore’.
You get the point.
There’s nothing like returning home to find that it’s not the place that has changed, but yourself.
We just passed the halfway point for September. I don’t know if I should be buying next month’s bus passes, or packing my bags.
These days, I don’t have the luxury of making future plans. No long-term rents. No owning furniture or artwork or other toys that might not survive a trip across the Pacific in a suitcase. Once, someone broke up with me using the line, “I don’t know where you’ll be six months from now.”
It makes sense that I’d chose to stay, given the choice. And it doesn’t make sense that I’d be asked to leave, considering the facts.
I pay taxes. I pour my consumer dollars back into the US economy like a marketer’s wet dream. I’m not stealing anyone’s job. We’re growing fast – we’re starting three new team members this week. Staying makes sense.
But to be honest, I’m not sure what sounds better anymore.
Continue to live and work in the Bay Area, the heart of the world’s technological revolution. Spend every day working with a company that I love – work that I go to sleep thinking about and wake up every morning excited to do. Spend several days a week training with a world-class dance crew. Explore a vibrant city, state, country, with adventures to be had for hours in every direction.
Go home. But not really. Find a new job, work remotely, or start a company of my own. Travel recklessly. Spend a month in every city on my list – Bangkok, Davao, Cape Town, Krakow, Seoul, Prague, Munich, Taipei. Sleep on the streets. Camp under the stars. Hitchhike across South East Asia in search of an idea that could change the lives of a hundred million people for the better.
So the visa process is hell.
But life is pretty damn good.
PS: Now accepting – marriage proposals.