Today I met an American friend here for coffee. It’s nice being able to talk so-called American and not worry about shades of meaning. He is even older than me. Can you imagine that? 😀.
So we talked about life here in Vietnam a lot. He is marrying a Vietnamese woman and going through the legal requirements. None are difficult but most are time consuming. He only wants to stay here. With her and the kids. There’s nothing for him back in the US. There’s a lot of us hidden in the folds and creases of countries. We don’t blog or instagram or write up the shades of life so much. So perhaps this blog can translate the almost invisible shades and let you see our little truths.
- We want a good life. Just not in the US. We want the stability and fun and joy of a place and not the “quiet desperation” of life back there.
- We want to feel valued and needed. In the US we are discarded from cultural and social life. We’re just those old people with no meaning, knowledge, or understanding.
- We want to enjoy a place not finished. A life still being built. In the US it’s too late for us. Sentence has been pronounced.
- Perhaps we want quality relationships. Things real with context and content. Back in the US we are labeled and pushed to the corners. We feel there is nothing of value left to us. Here we find value. We find Vietnamese friends or even more if we so wish. I don’t believe my friend looked for it but yet found it anyways. I enjoy the friendship part so much. I’m not put away in some corner.
- We want substance and reality and retirement that gives and gets. In the US we are not real. We are just mile markers of a gradually slowing life. Some of us wounded and left behind. Over here we find it again. Vietnamese friends that care and call us family. That call and check on us. That welcome us to larger families of theirs.
- I finally want the solitary times to do yoga or walk or do meditation. Time spent on things in the peace and quiet of a small room. No conditions. No prerequisites. Vietnam gives me that but so do other places.
Sometimes I think many of the shades of life are particularly felt and understood here in Vietnam. There is the underlying importance of family here. The social fabric. The hospitality. The friendship. Yet the solitary times I also need to feel complete. Miles walked. Things realized. Thoughts seen.
When I leave here it will be for a place to find next. And then next after that. After all while my friend and I share some things, we are also completely different. It’s good to see him, to see my Vietnamese family, but it’s also so good to not. To find my own way. My own shades. Getting old is not about falling apart or sitting at Carl’s junior for breakfast and playing cribbage. We all want adventure and life and joy but the US declines to give. So we seek out that same thing in other places. Places we find like Cambodia or Vietnam or others. Where we can move slower but still move. Find something missing from a retired life in the US. Namely all those shades and hues in life.