I moved to Vietnam for three months.
Or so I thought.
But this wonderful country, and Hanoi—with its kind people, gorgeous food and easy lifestyle—has stolen my heart. And that doesn’t include the fabulous work opportunities that have come my way. And the cheap, cheap, cheap cost of living. My money goes a long way here. My life is full and rich and interesting and varied in a way that it isn’t possible back in Australia.
So when my daughter recently said she was moving out of my apartment in Adelaide, it seemed like a good time to start reorganising my life.
To move here.
Indefinitely. Probably permanently.
That means bringing Bella Kitteh over (and all that that entails).
And renting out my apartment (and all that that entails).
I will be leaving friends and my immediate family behind (although, the truth is I kinda let them all go when I left Australia in November).
I feel more connected, wanted, valued, loved here than I ever did in Adelaide. I feel surrounded by it, cocooned in it.
It also means that I won’t be geographically close to my daughter. That bothers me more than it bothers her, and I have to say I’m not bothered by it at all. She is living her life, and I am living mine. Just as it should be.
Recently one of my expat friends—he’s a journalist—asked me a really good question: how do the people you’ve left behind feel about you choosing to live a new life in Vietnam? What does that say about your old life? About them?
To quote Benjamin Button: I don’t know. I’m always lookin’ out my own eyes. In other words, I can’t answer those questions for them, or on behalf of them. I can only answer it from my perspective. From my truth.
The truth is: I was in such a rut when I left Adelaide. Angry. Frustrated. Unhappy.
But I had no reason to be any of those things. I had a secure job, even though I hated it. Money wasn’t an issue. My social life was ok, when I wanted it to be. My daughter was happy and healthy. My cat loved me. But I was so, so, SO unfulfilled.
I wanted more, but I didn’t actually know what that more was. I’ve found that more in Hanoi.
I feel more connected, wanted, valued, loved here than I ever did in Adelaide. I feel surrounded by it, cocooned in it. I feel like I am more me here than I anywhere else I’ve ever been.
Saying Fuck This Shit was the best thing I ever did.
And that is my truth.
It is the truest truth I know.
This is the 12th essay in the #52essays2017 challenge that I’ve set for myself this year. I’ll be writing (or trying to write) one personal essay a week: 52 in total. And I’m doing this because I’m the first to admit I’ve become a lazy writer: allowing guest posts and series and cross-posting to make up the bulk of content on The Diane Lee Project across 2016. The brave, fearless writing that readers admired and respected me for has all but disappeared. This year—2017—will be different. I’m reclaiming my voice—my write like a motherfucker voice! And if you are interested and want to join the #52essays2017 challenge, you can find out more information here, and join the Facebook group here.