Day by day I am realizing just how much I have changed in the last several years. When I met Thu, a friend who I became acquainted with four years ago during my first study abroad trip to Vietnam, for lunch today, I did not laugh as much as I used to laugh. I did not inappropriately crack jokes about how we would marry someday or try to make her blush as I used to. And it wasn’t because we have become any less amicable with one another or because she’s an engaged woman, but because I had no energy for it.
All I could think to talk about was our jobs, how everything with the School for International Training has changed, and what my plans are for the next several months. Thu asked about my love life, as the locals are so wont to do, and as usual, I dodged the question by simply stating that I doubt I’ll be getting married any time soon.
I’m not the same person I used to be in Vietnam. I came here in 2004 a student with very little responsibility outside of doing well in my classes and playing as hard as humanly possible. For the first time in my life I did not need a job or worry about where money would come from—the program took care of everything for me.
Now, however, I am a big boy, whose life is filled with responsibilities like running a business and paying rent, managing clients in the United States and other countries, and thinking about the future over a sweet and sour glass of juice in the heart of District 1.
Juice (45 Mac Thi Buoi, D1) brings back fond memories. I used to meet the old gang here during our independent study time and plan out our shenanigans for the upcoming nights in Ho Chi Minh City. The rattling of dishware, the sounds of Massive Attack and Eminem, and the international clientele all bring me to a place of both nostalgia and hope. It would be nice to relive those memories.
I wonder if a part of me refuses to act the role of a child because it brings back moments that I cannot have back. Sure, I can go to the Caravelle Hotel gym or stay out until three o’clock in the morning doing things that I probably should not be doing in Vietnam, but it wouldn’t feel the same without my wingmen. Being wild with friends makes memories. Doing it alone just makes me frustrated and crotchety.
I’ll be meeting Thu again for lunch tomorrow. I should promise myself now that when we meet, I will tell a joke that will make her blush or say something that I wish I could take back, just for old time’s sake.