Not Just an Experience

I have been back “home” in Saigon for a little over a month now. I haven’t posted because the shift from experiencing a new culture to just living my life in a new place seems pretty complete. Though I still marvel at the number of people sharing motorbikes, tremble as whatever cab I am in approaches unpredictable traffic patterns, and feel mystified by the languages spoken around me, I am home here. Navigating the routine tasks of living seems easy. Finding a routine at work happened quickly. Fitting in exercise and time with friends and reading for fun is possible in ways it just wasn’t last year. Perhaps the fact that I fell victim to some terrible cold virus for two weeks also impeded my desire to write or have new Vietnamese experiences, but mostly, life is just as it should be.

After some crazy negotiations between my human resources housing officer, my old landlord, and my new landlord, it was decided that I get to stay in my apartment until July! I celebrated by hanging up some photos and throwing a massive dinner party.

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Some pictures of pretty spots I have visited – from Troxelville to Taiwan and Kolkata to Hoi An. Love the world.

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A few more photos that help bring the outdoors inside.

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Cooking no longer seems like an impossible chore of finding ingredients and utensils. This vat of chili was only one of the dishes served at my dinner party with 22 guests.

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Part of the crowd at the apartment renewal celebration.

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Some friends stood close to fans as it is difficult to cool an apartment packed with people.

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Some friends sat on the floor, stood in the kitchen, or hung out at the “activity corner” in the office, but we found space for everyone.

Some of the newness has worn off, but I am enjoying all the old haunts, trying new places, and spending time with awesome co-workers.

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Melissa, Shelley, Alison and Jason enjoying a quick dance at a mostly empty Republic.

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Melissa, Erin and I have squeezed in lots of morning runs. Sometimes we even wear matching outfits.

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Out to a “run” (I think they mean rum) bar to celebrate Vaughn’s birthday with old friends and new co-workers.

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Alex and Clare had a few of us over for dinner and a chance to play Exploding Kittens, a great new card game.

In some ways, this year has been an interesting transition from just feeling like I was on a vacation from my real life to feeling like I have found a new life that could be sustainable for the foreseeable future. There are moments that make me question the validity of this feeling. I am sad to be missing the wedding of my beloved twin cousin. I feel far from home when the people I love are sick or maimed (stay on your bike, Dani!). But, I also feel happy that technology makes the world smaller, lucky that I get to travel so often, and excited to explore the possibilities of an expat life. My friend Rebecca just posted a quote on Facebook that rings true, “You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

So, Saigon is home (at least for now), and Beavertown and Baltimore are still home, too. Can I still claim State College and Moorestown, and all the other places my loved ones reside? I am a lucky soul to have so many places that fill me with joy. Soon, I will tell you all the tales of the travels to come, but for now, rest assured that I am happy to be home.

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Part of our typical morning run takes us along the river when the sun is thinking about coming up. LOVE the views.

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Sept. 2nd was Vietnamese National Day, so we had off school that Wednesday and the streets were lined with flags.

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Single ladies – new class of 2014 – out for a delicious sushi dinner. Love these women! Who could ask for anything more?

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Alison can scoot to and from downtown these days! She is a brave soul, and rocks the mask I put in our white elephant Christmas gift exchange last year. Maybe someday soon, I can try scooting again? On a flat, straight and completely empty road?

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3 Comments

  1. All the best for all the new and old adventures. I’m going to have chance to see Gayle this weekend. Will e-mail if any interesting news. Just finished loading the car with all the market goodies. Have some beautiful dahlia again this week. Good thing they are extra nice as the critters wiped out the go-to zinnias. Sigh!!!

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  2. As a mom, the best I can hope for my children is that they find a job they love in a place they can call home. While you are across the globe and Kevin has now found a “home” in Texas, if you are both happy, I’m happy. I’m also glad that your second year of teaching there is off to a better start than last year, but that is not a surprise. As for Dani, she’s tough and your parents and Michele do a great job taking care of her. You are in my prayers this weekend.
    Shaf

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