Square One in Saigon

I’ve been somewhat quiet on the food-slash-life front lately; Hanoi’s winter stole my soul. But everything is picking up again and the beginning of what will be a whirlwind year is here. I’ve been in Ho Chi Minh City for a few days to attend the wedding of a friend — I wish I would have known that turning 30 would mean suddenly being thrust into a world of nonstop weddings and babies — and on Monday morning I will fly to Lihue, Hawaii, for work. For all of February I will be in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with my grandmother and March is shaping up to be a month spent in Texas (SXSW, here I come!). After that? Well, I’ll get to that a bit later.

It feels strange to say this, but I’m having small doubts about life in Hanoi. I’ve been there for many years now, and I am hoping that these several months away from the city will give me clarity about the future. Vietnam has been such a huge part of my life for the last decade — it’s remarkable to think that mostly all of my 20s were spent here — and to imagine living anywhere else feels so weird to me.

But there’s a constant itch in my brain that keeps telling me there’s something else out there, whether that means moving to a different city (or returning to Saigon) in Vietnam or moving somewhere new. I often throw out locations like San Francisco, New York City, Tokyo, and Singapore as the next semipermanent stops, but the more I read about the US-based locations the more I fear the living expenses. And the more I think about Tokyo and Singapore the more I’m inclined to try them out for a few months before making any big decisions. They also require smart financial planning.

I wrote that my major goal this year is to let go, take everything as it happens, and live more in the moment. I’m getting there super-slowly, but I’m doing my best. While I can’t shut off the “maybe there’s something else out there” switch in my brain entirely, I can at least recognize when those thoughts are occurring and try to separate the positivity from the doubt. I am excited about life right now and whatever else may come this way.

Tonight I ate with Uyen, who I’ve known since 2004 (we attended the same university in Saigon), and talked about life, happiness, love, food, travel, and the future. I would not have chosen any other way to spend a Friday night here.