Gah, it’s cold. I feel a lot better than I did several days ago, but it’s still cold for me. Not helping this is the fact that my room seems to be the furthest away from the furnace and the closest to the cold winds that blow by the house and whistle at my window.
Today, finally, I’m going to meet up with an old college friend and the following day hopefully more. It’ll be good to get back and see all of these folks, many of which I can’t remember saying goodbye to. It also is nice just to see people that you were close with during those formative and relatively carefree years when things were terrible and wonderful and we could always meet up in the cafeteria for lunch. But for the moment, I’m going to find something to keep my feet warm…
I’m back in Ohio and it’s cold. It was lightly snowing a couple hours ago but now it’s stopped, and I think the wind has too. The wind is something that I just can’t handle: it’s SO cold. Even when the temperature isn’t below freezing, the wind just sucks any heat out of me. All the trees and vegetation around the house appear completely dead and the wind whistles around the corners of the house.
The house. This home that hasn’t really been my home ever. It wasn’t completed until I had started college, and so I’ve lived here for a few summers, but that’s all. Now I’m wondering what home really is… So far, no one has even asked about Vietnam or even seemed to notice that I’ve been gone for three years. I’m not sure what to make of that, but ostensibly it makes you feel like you’re not the highest of value and that people didn’t even notice that you were gone in the first place. Maybe it’s just that people here have no frame of reference to go on, so they don’t want to ask about a country that they know little about, or maybe they think that the easiest thing is just to pretend that I was never gone, or something like that. The base conversations and discussions about seemingly irrelevant topics is one thing that’s starting to get on my nerves, but we’ll see what happens within the next week or so.
Today I called several old college friends, and although I only talked to one person initially, most of them eventually called me back and some tentative plans to see them are being drawn up.
I was an emotional farewell for me in Long Xuyen on Saturday. From about 8:30 a.m. until I left at 11 a.m. there were students either in my room or outside the guesthouse waiting for me. When I finally came down with all of my luggage and started to load it into the van, I saw that several students had tears in their eyes. Then several of them ran up to hug me, and this made me start crying as well. One other student of mine said he’d “hug the tears out of me,” but this didn’t work either. I’m surprised that I was able to leave at all…
Now I’m in HCMC and I just had my final interview/report with MCC, I have my ticket home, and students and people in Long Xuyen are still sending me text messages saying how much they miss me. Leaving Long Xuyen, and even thinking about it now, is like tearing a piece of something deep inside my gut out and throwing it away. It hurts. and I have to ask myself, is it really necessary? Sure, I’d like to go home to Ohio, but Long Xuyen is my home now, at least in my mind. I was talking to a friend the other day, and I had to mention that I have more friends in Long Xuyen than in Ohio, or even in America for that matter. Why? I’m not sure, but as it stands now, that is a fact.
Currently I leave Vietnam in two days.
Here’s my last glimpse of the land of An Giang…
I leave Long Xuyen tomorrow morning. My era is over.
Buong has been my companion for nearly 2.5 years now. (Buong means “stubborn” in Vietnamese, but sometimes I refer to him as “Buongy” or “Buongster” or “Buongomatic”). He’s always been there for me and now, since I’ve had my suitcases out around the room, he’s been acting differently. He seems to be more affectionate now, like sleeping with his head on my arm when I’m lying in bed. I’m gonna miss this little guy so much. He is always there for me when I get home from work, every day.
This is my favorite welcome sign for Long Xuyen. It’s on a smaller road that leads out into one of the districts; a road that not many foreigners would travel on. The other signs on the bigger roads with more traffic have been replaced with bright pictures and English translations, but this one is still my favorite. It’s a few kilometers from AGU and the paint on it is peeling. The literal translation is: “The City of Long Xuyen Welcomes its Honored Guests”
I went out for a short cruise around some parts of Long Xuyen around lunchtime to some of the places where they are currently building/developing. I went to check the progress of the new campus of the university and saw that they are starting to build a new story on what will soon be the new administration buildings.
This whole area where these building are being constructed used to be full of grass taller than me and water buffaloes grazing.
Around this area was the deserted road where I first learned to drive a motorbike, but now is becoming ever-more developed with the university building and housing development nearby.
Also, where the road used to dead-end into a rice paddy, it now continues into a housing development.
The changes that have happened over the past three years in the area amaze me…
The weather is still nice and cool in Long Xuyen and the sunshine is warm and actually feels good instead of burning/scorching the skin. Last night a Dutch man who’s living in town organized a St. Nickolaus Day party and there was lots of good food and opening of presents, etc, and then it started to rain on us and we all took shelter under a small roof. It was a good evening, but I was exhausted and went to bed early and then woke up earlier than usual in order to teach an extra class in the morning. Then, after finishing that particular class (a discussion of Huckleberry Finn), a student from another class ran up to me and asked me to teach an extra class in the afternoon. All this teaching of extra classes is so that hopefully everyone can finish early, benefiting the students so they have more time to study for exams, and benefiting teachers with extra time off (or in my case, time to pack to head for home). So I’ve got an unusually busy afternoon ahead, but nothing I can’t handle.