I found this old post I wrote when I thought we’d stick to the original plan and leave after two years in Vietnam. We stayed five. However today I really, actually move on. In re-reading this, I realize how much Vietnam has grown on me in the past few years. I like her even more now than I did when I wrote the “letter” below. Vietnam, it’s been great!
When we met I was overwhelmed by your frenzy. I slapped your mosquitoes, hated your heat and feared your scooters. Time and time again you made me wonder why I’d come. In our two years together I watched from the other side of the world as I lost two of the dearest people in my life in my first few months here and spent half my salary to fly away from you. To put it lightly, we were unlikely friends.
And yet, I will miss you. Our roller coaster ride included so, so many highs. Never again will I see a beach so beautiful and deserted. Never again will I be such an anomaly in my own neighborhood. Never again will my awkwardness and lack of language be so quickly forgiven – and compensated for by those who should resent me. I will never again meet such purely lovely children who want to learn and love school and work to ridiculous extents just to become smarter.
I read somewhere that long-distance couples often fight just before one of them is about to leave. Sort of a self-preservation thing or preference to feeling angry instead of sad. Vietnam and I were doing that, I thought. What with all the cockroaches, cheeky geckos, broken house appliances going on I was sure he was trying to pick a fight. But seems he’s reconsidered his strategy. Now that our departure date nears Vietnam is pulling out all the stops to make sure I miss him.
As if reminding me of his beauty while hosting guests and traveling around weren’t enough, he’s managed to make the weather cooler than normal. I love him all the more. And I’m all the more reminded of how bad I’ve been to him. I moved here to be with him, but I have not done it gracefully.
I am a bad immigrant.
Won’t You Be My Neighbo(u)r?
Hello there, friendly future neighbor! We’re the new immigrants in town. One of us anyway, the other has just been away awhile. We may dress funny. We may talk wrong. We may eat foods with chopsticks and even throw “u”s into your well-established alphabet. But we are just people. We know we’re different. We know we’re not from here. We know we have an accent. Pointing it out is as redundant as saying ATM Machine. So please, help us help you. Want to get to know us? Great! But please actually get to know us as friends, not as a sparkle at your next cocktail (or karaoke) party.
Here are the top 10 questions immigrants are asked (and may be sick of answering):
The nomadic daughter is returning. Sort of. Though I’ll still be a four-hour flight away from my family, purple mountain majesty lies ahead. This move has had more planning and paperwork than any of our others. But after a year of hoop hopping and other cliché rigmarole, JD’s card is now almost Green and so’s his horn. African in tow, I’m coming back, America.
We want this and have worked for it and paid a pretty US penny for it. Even still, it’s bittersweet. Not just leaving Vietnam and our friends, but also leaving a particularly ear-perking noun. I will no longer be an ex-pat (big hat immigrant, if you will). Soon I’m just a regular old pat.