I’m currently in my ninth year of living in Malaysia, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. But there is something still that pulls on my heart when I think about the nearly ten years I lived in Vietnam.
I think part of the pull is that my kids’ formative years were lived in Vietnam. We were immersed in the culture, learning the language, living in community, trying to blend in as much as possible – which was utterly impossible.
This photo illustrates how we lived.I’m sure it’s not hard to pick out my little blonde second daughter. She’s being held by one of her friends (who’s still a friend on Facebook. That fact alone makes me shake my head. There were no computers in Vietnam when I moved there).
My kids had the run of the neighborhood. Every family knew them well. At one point, my three kids aged 9, 5, and 3 would unlock our door in the morning and walk down the road to eat breakfast at a stall all by themselves. Mom and Dad slept.
Did we ever worry?
Not at all. Every single one of our neighbors (and there were many of them) would have done anything for our kids. We all looked after everyone else. The sense of community was special. I really miss that about Vietnam.
Here’s the whole neighborhood gang in front of our house.
In reality, they were the training ground for me as a writer.
Vietnam doesn’t release its grip so easily.