I’m building a home. It’s a perfect little home, with brick walls that are surrounded by mountains and greenery. It’s small and quaint, taking up approximately forty-five square meters on a plot of land that’s three times as large. There’s plenty of room to grow flowers, plant a tree, exercise, play with the cat and her friends, live in privacy, and sit and watch the mountains during sunrise.
I could not ask for more. I dare not ask for more. This is everything I’ve ever dreamed of.
And yet it’s not enough.
The neighbors ask why the house is so small. Passersby seem surprised that the only foreigner they’ve met in their entire lives wants a house that’s the tiniest on the street. And friends and family meddlers continue urging my wife and me to adjust our budget to add this or that because without it we’ll be unhappy. This introduces palpable stress into our marriage.
It’s a strange feeling, to want nothing more than what I can afford, upfront in cash, paid-in-full, taking on not a shred of home debt, while at the same time facing pity. It’s odd. I’ve never dealt with something like this before, probably because we don’t have a child, but it’s incredibly strange.
I don’t know if it’s a Vietnamese thing or a human nature thing but trying to actively convince someone else that I’ve never been more content with what I have and desire nothing more, all while facing skepticism, is weird. It’s just weird. I don’t know how to process it.
This will probably happen again. It will most certainly happen again if we have a child, and the struggle I’m now facing is how to remain as firm as I am without being mean. I lack gentleness when it comes to meddling; I get triggered by it quickly. I lash out like a rabid animal whose cave has been invaded. Whether it’s my mother-in-law or extended in-laws, a best friend, or my own mother or siblings, the reaction is the same.
Get off my lawn. I am my father’s son.
I’ll need to work on my people skills. There must be a way, in short, to say that I’m happy. I’ve never been this happy. I have what I want exactly as I want it and I wish for nothing more because unhappiness is primarily produced by choice and unrealistic expectations.
I don’t know that I’ll ever have enough. If the internet and advertising are any indications, my life up until now has been a complete and utter disaster. I’m doing everything wrong. Everything I’m doing could be remedied by more. This is what I’m being sold.
And yet I feel nothing but the opposite.