What Comes Next?

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Arriving in a developing country like Vietnam can be difficult.  It’s messy, loud; jazz with no rhythm and a coked up bass player.  Street food vendors have rats a-waiting in the wings.  Three-story houses that you could only afford here are subject to weekly power cuts and water shortages that reduce them to stifling cinder block cells.  Local friendliness is more intrusive than calming.

But four years on those nuisances fade to background noise.  What emerges in their absence is the fun of being here.  Even if initial intrigue and cultural fascination wane, homey comforts arrive in a place you never thought you could call home.

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You have friends, great friends both local and expat.  You can scoot and actually somewhat hold your own in the labyrinth of driving patterns orchestrated by cheddar-crazed lab rats.  Your job is not only familiar, but Pinterest-esch fulfilling.  You can afford to do anything you want.  When you first moved here it was a turn off to hear expats continually talk about how cheap things are.  Over time – your first time being “rich” – you’ve realized that affordability means choice.  While fancy pants may not be your go-to accessory, you can hop on your bike and let the day’s adventure take you anywhere it wants – because you can afford the food, hotel or blown-out tire you may encounter.

After four years you – and especially your partner – have made a place here.  You’ve joined the local aerobics, yoga and odd Asian-salsa dance classes.  You can say, like, twelve words in Vietnamese.  Your partner’s roots go even deeper.  He’s actually started new trends; a golf tournament, two soccer leagues, the city’s first wake boarding, oh, and a successful business.

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Yet when all is blossoming and all is happily settling, you realize it will soon be time to move on.  The next adventure.  The next challenge. The next stage of your life and the next what-comes-next.  Where and When may be yet to be determined, but the tease of a new let’s-find-out begins to call.

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