Lots of stories. Lots of people. Lots of new perspectives and ways of thinking. And in turn, new songs.
Celebrated New Year's Eve on a decrepit rooftop overlooking the city of Hanoi. Started playing shows around the city. Found a writing and performing partner. Hanoi held a lot of magic for me.
When friends started heading back home to their respective countries, we sidewalk chalked streets of the Old Quarter with Nahko Bear's lyrics. "I believe in the good things coming." Big. Bright. With lots of hugs.
I miss it. I miss spending 5 days a week trying to learn Vietnamese, trying to get my pronunciation accurate enough for people to understand me. It's gone now. I miss the tiny victories, having a simple conversation with the lady round the corner. Language is so empowering.
I miss riding everywhere on my motorbike. After coming back to the States, I looked into it. Renting a motorbike. Just not affordable. Definitely a buy-it-outright mode of transportation.
I miss my German roommates (and you, too, Jamile, if you're reading this). Man, how they love life and living. It was so special, living in that house with them. We got very lucky. I can't believe it's been a year already since we met.
I was able to form lasting bonds with many people, and it's easy to bring to mind all the rosy parts of living there.
I don't miss the dirt, however. The pollution. The fumes in and on everything. I've never felt more appreciation or need for the EPA and FDA as I did upon coming home from Hanoi. The dirt becomes part of you in that city. You can feel it in your skin. I was sick half the time I was there.
Eventually, your body adjusts. To an extent. My writing and performing partner moved here to LA about two weeks ago. Came down with a rough throat straight away. Not used to the weather or air conditioning, after 5 years in Vietnam and Korea. I know LA isn't exactly the poster child for clean air, but it's definitely an improvement to Hanoi.
I'll tell you what, though. I miss feeling safe. I walk around the States on constant alert. Gun violence stories invade my feed every day, and I find myself always checking for exits, wondering what's in that twenty-six-year-old's backpack or pockets. For four years in Japan, I walked around by myself, any time of day or night, big city or small, and never worried. How priceless is peace.
The Brady Campaign is a coalition of national organizations dedicated to ending gun violence. There are several projects on their website with which you can get involved. Check it out here:
Let's all try to love each other a bit more.