As we count down our stay in Southeast Asia I am stuck somewhere between Hanoi and Halifax. You can’t find this place on a map and I can’t name it; it’s a mental space. My subversive mind is wandering back and forth through my life picking up people and events long past and has mired me down in memories. It’s not bad or good; it’s a quagmire. I’m feeling incredibly grateful right now for my life, and so happy we came. I’d prefer to stay in the moment and focus on this chaotic complex world around me, because time is running out. But this seems to happen every time I’m about to make a big transition….I become lost in these mashed up memories and dreams. Anyhow the real reason I’m trying to express all this is that I’m struggling to write. (You don’t want to know how long it took to get just that out!) So once again, instead of words, I offer pictures.
These are photos of many of the people who made this year incredible…..
First is Huong and Chinh. My aunt and uncle introduced us as Huong had been their guide in Hanoi in 2015. They were pretty sure we’d become friends. And they were so right. Somara and I had the honour of being at their wedding in December.
This is Kristy (and Somara after a particularly good sale at a shoe shop). She’s also a Canadian who came to Hanoi with WUSC and stayed on to teach English. We ‘hang out’ a lot and I’m going to miss her terribly.
The Canary hotel, where we live is a family business. Thu, the manager, and her two daughters are the ones we see the most, and they have treated us more like family members than clients. Before we go I must try to get some good photos of all the family. Meanwhile, Tan, Van, Thuy (who you see in the first photo), Phuong who’s in the second, and Van (in the one below) all work at the Canary and have become friends. We enjoy their company and will miss their smiles.
Mai, who’s worked with (and humoured) Tim at the Hanoi Open University has brought us together with her family numerous times this year. We even met her father and mother and sister, and her family, who live 2 hours North of Hanoi a couple of weeks ago. I hope one day we can host them in Canada.
One thing I’ve learned about privilege is that it’s not just about having the means to do things in life, it’s about having the support of those around you to do those things you desire. One of the best parts of this year was having people we love come and join in the adventure.
Sarah and Dave, dear friends from Halifax, fit Hanoi in to their 3 month journey to Australia and New Zealand. And I’m so glad they did. It was a blast showing them our favourite spots as well as uncovering new ones.
Amrita and I met in grade 7, a long long time ago. We’ve been through a lot of life together. And I was thrilled when she asked if she could come visit with her kids, Katie, Jason and Marina. I think we laughed for 12 days straight. The first picture is of all the kids playing Heads Up (a charades type game) at the Fine Arts Museum. The next is Amrita trying to throw clay.We had an amazing trip to Mai Chau (3rd photo) where we wandered through rice fields, and played more games until the wee hours of the morning.
Tim’s brother Jeff has lived in Southeast Asia for over 10 years. He was a bit elusive this year although we finally got to meet his girlfriend Ying (who was wonderful) in Thailand in early February. Jeff eventually caught up with us later in the month in Hanoi but somehow still avoided being photographed. Tim’s parents however were not photo resistant. This is Jackie showing us how to play cards and Paul showing Somara how to mug for a photo. Their visit was far too quick.
Never ones to pass up an opportunity for travel, almost all my immediate family showed up at some point this year. First takers were my sister Fia’s family. In fact they beat us here. And we caught up with Fia, Joel, Ava and Lily almost a year ago in Central Vietnam. The picture tells you what you need to know.
Next was my mom, who waited for the summer heat wave to end. Even though she’s travelled the world I worried that it was really far for her to come. It didn’t phase her one bit, nor did the traffic, or the food…. The best moment was when the women at our local market asked her age (not uncommon, as age changes the way you address some-one), she answered, they gasped, and then clapped and cheered.
Before Mom left her sister, Naomi arrived. And then her brother, Shim, and my aunt Moe. It was great just hanging out with them enjoying a lot of good scotch, vodka, and other delicious things. I had forgotten how much I like shopping with both my aunts, and we made up for lost time. (Naomi is being fitted for one of the few items she had made in the first photo. Note the poncho in the next was not tailor made.)
As I said these are photos of people who made this year incredible. Tim, didn’t just make it incredible, he made it. I can’t believe I put up so much resistance…what was I thinking?! Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. As for Somara, I think she’s shown us her incredible capacity to be open to the world. She’s also taught me that if you want her attention, there can be no puppies in sight.