• | dtinews.vn | April 10, 2011 04:42 PM

This morning something happened that has happened a few times. I woke up and looked at my wall. For a few seconds I had no idea where I was. The U.S., Milwaukee, Los Angeles? No....

I realized after not too long, just a few seconds, that I am in Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Hanoi.

Sounds like a small thing, but it’s jarring.

I’ve talked to so many, especially young, Vietnamese people who would like to live overseas. So maybe it would be good to talk about what happens when you leave home.

When somebody asks where I’m from I say Los Angeles, because I spent much of my childhood there, and most of my life. But my family moved to Milwaukee (a medium sized city not too far from Chicago) at one point, and I spent my high school years there.

As soon as I turned 18 I moved back to LA, this time by myself. I couldn’t wait to go to school, be on my own, leave home.

So I went to school, worked and busied myself with making a little place in the big world. I was younger then and didn’t think much about home. Probably I didn’t even have time to think much about it.

Well after many years, I went back to Milwaukee last summer. I very much looked forward to seeing the place I remember spending my formative years in. Seeing home.

But when I got there, It had disappeared.

Well, not exactly. Milwaukee was still there, along with my old school and my old house. One night I looked into the windows of my old house, hoping nobody would catch me, thinking that everything would look so familiar. My old bedroom was pink, everything was rearranged. I almost didn’t even recognize it.

Living as an “expat” in Hanoi is a really great experience. Sometimes while driving in the sun or walking in the rain, I look around and feel so lucky to see you people with your open lives. Open doors. Everything on the street. So quick to laugh, sometimes so mean (yes, sometimes, haha).

But this place is so different than where I grew up. And the biggest impression that I get from what you might call “expat life” here is impermanence. Everything feels temporary.

And every once in a while, on days like today, it feels like, even with all the good things that come along with living somewhere different, you loose something as well.

I’m not trying to discourage any of you young, curious or adventurous people not to go and see every country, city, every place that might capture your imagination.

Go, go!

  Still though, before you put an ocean and a river between yourself and home, take some time and look at your home. Enjoy it. Take a picture and keep it in your mind. Someday it might not be there.

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