Life as an Ex-Ex-Pat

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.

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Doing Much for Little

After six months in Central America, three years in Africa and five years in Southeast Asia poverty seems normal.  Until recently when it didn’t.

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The Change Happening

Many Americans have a soundtrack for Vietnam in mind.  The songs popular with soldiers in the war – and popular in movies about soldiers in the war – talk about peace, frustration and, primarily, change.  Like a rolling stone, I moved here to watch every season turn, turn, turn and further wonder what war is good for.  And in my half decade in Vietnam, I’ve found a playlist about change to be perfectly fitting.

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Our Grand Finale Tour of Southeast Asia

The words, “This is our last year in Vietnam” clearly struck fear into the hearts of my family members. Before you could say, “Tien’s your uncle” suitcases were packed, tickets bought, visas ordered and – lo and behold – they came, they saw, they loved it. For JD and me it was a chance to see them, to show off our city and to revisit our best spots.

So where did we go?

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Let Bucket Lists Kick the Bucket

Bucket lists are terrible. 100 Things to Do Before You Die must die.  Is this how pessimistic we’ve become? Death is imminent so make sure to have fun!!!!!  How about we change our minds to do what’s fun for you when it’s fun for you?  Yes, we’ll all die.  But, heck, I don’t have a countdown to that super special day.

There’s a point of these overtly obnoxious kicks in the butt.  Many of us are lazy, out of shape and perhaps in search of direction.  A “bucket list” scares us into moving.

But let’s act, not on fear, but on want.  Contrary to fashionable belief, not everyone has to skydive, or learn a new language or even *gasp* travel.  All we must do is be kind and support ourselves.  The rest is incidental.

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Ready to Dig In

What if you had told me I’d wind up in Vietnam for five years?  That I’d live here, all of all places, for longer than I’ve lived anywhere other than my parents’ house as a kid?  What if I had seen this house as my home instead of the forbidding Haunted Mansion?  What if I’d framed pictures instead of using each trip home as a way to offload a suitcase of souvenirs onto my very space-generous mom?  What if I had fully embraced Da Nang from the beginning?

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Friends

Blood may be thicker than water, but without water there is no life as we know it.  Friends give our lives so much of their meaning.  My friends are just…great.  Today is one of my best friend’s birthdays and also the day of learning about another best friend’s best friend’s tragedy.  The celebration/desperation conflict reminds me that above all else, friends should always be appreciated.  Cliché as this may sound, these pivotal moments in life are what inspire folk tales, puns and clichés, themselves.

In contemplating the value of friendship, I consider that one of these aforementioned best friends I’ve known since Kindergarten; the other I’ve known only 7.9% of my life.  Friendship is that unique relationship in life that wields both shared history and immediate compatibility into its fold.  My golden old friendship runs deep, with memories stemming from before the time when even some of my “thick blood” entered the picture.  My silver friendship has the immediacy of recent choice involved; I found someone I wanted to share time and life events with – and they liked me back.

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Look Me in the Eye When You Write about Me

ocean-2

How quickly do we take things for granted?  How many years, days, hours before the initial wow fades?  Believe it or not, this isn’t a breakup blog post as Carrie Bradshaw would have you believe.  It’s an honest ponder.  I just wrote about my illicit love affair with the ocean.  Just.  Wrote.  It.  Only to realize the other day while sitting on the beach that I haven’t actually visited her since I’ve been back from South Africa.  Three weeks ago.  I liken it to the grandma you adore, but rarely make it to the old age home to see.

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The Hierarchy of Articulation

accents

What’s in an accent?  Surely that by any other pronunciation would sound as sweet?

Clearly the Bard was calling on base comedy.  I bite my thumb at thee.  Everyone knows accents are cool.  No, let’s be honest.  They’re dang sexy.  Well except for some.  Sorry, Midwest.  The best ours can be described as is “nasally.”  Not exactly erotic.

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Life Aquatastic

ocean-2

Living by the ocean is the best.  The intoxicating uncertainty of her moods thrills me.  Will she be blue and calm, turquoise and flirty or gray, rough and full of fantastic anger?

Being near the ocean is an absolute treat.  It centers, grounds me, puts things in perspective.  It is my loyal friend to visit – well, my loyal friend with multiple personality disorder.

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