I haven’t taken a personal vacation in years. To be exact, it’s been two years and 9 months. To be even further precise, dramatic (and redundant), it’s been 1,015 days, which feels like a lifetime for me.
Every time Todd and I plan on a vacation, an opportunity arrives at our door step and we accept it, putting our personal vacation aside till next the next month. Our choice to take these gigs over vacation isn’t because it’s about the money, but rather, they’re jobs that will help us grow as photographers, filmmakers and more importantly, as people. We’ll accept the jobs, travel to the location, work our butts off and then make a mini-vacation out of the time that we’re there.
This chaotic workflow has always been satisfying, numbing some of the longing to actually go somewhere for personal, rather than professional reasons. Until recently. My well has dried out and I’m thirsty, yearning to be replenished on an journey for my own.
Todd and I are now planning our next trip, this time it’ll be a personal trip for us, especially for me.
I’ve been wanting to start backwards, at the bottom of my huge wish list of places to journey. My dream list of places to visit started back in early High School, all stemming from my first influential teachers. Thank goodness for my school teachers, my mentors.
Egypt was always on my top list, including many more seductive locations such as Mongolia, Nepal, Burma, Galopagos Islands, New Zealand and the whole continent of Africa. It’s been 21 years since I graduated from High School and I’ve yet to explore anything on my world roster. I’m deciding it’s about time to start checking off my whole list within the next 5 years.
Todd and I narrowed down this trip to Egypt or New Zealand, both in very different parts of the world and full of stories to discover. But in the back of my mind, Vietnam has always been haunting me, privately terrifying me, calling me back when I’m not ready.
My last trip to Vietnam was in 2008 and it was a glorious trip for many reasons. Todd was with me to visit my birthplace for the first time, and my family so proud to sport their “white family member” around town on a scooter. My journey back home with just Todd was beyond wonderful. It was especially deeply personal for me because he met my maternal grandmother (ba ngoai) for the first time. She was becoming more frail. A lifetime of war and heart-ache can weather a person quickly.
I wanted and needed Todd to meet her because to see her and the place of my birthplace would allow for our relationship to come full circle. For him to experience my Grandmother, my Vietnam would give him complete understanding as to who I was as a person. This trip was that important to me for him to be there, immersed in my Vietnamese culture. I think that trip sealed the deal between us.
My Grandmother passed in 2009 and since then, I’ve still been in mourning. The thought of returning to Viet-Nam haunts me because my soul was in her and she’s gone. I haven’t had the urge to return because my wounds are still fresh and I never felt ready to confront my Viet-Nam without her there.
Viet-Nam feels like a lonely place without her.
So vacation planning for this year included many countries on my list, but Viet-Nam was never one of them, until now.
Planning a vacation and avoiding Viet-Nam because of the immense sadness would be selfish of me. I need to pay respects to my Grandmother and confront the pain, have closure and embrace the beauty of my Viet-Nam again.
Every time I return to Viet-Nam it nurtures me and feeds my soul. I’ll return again to be fed. Egypt and New Zealand will just have to wait because my Grandmother is calling me.
Where do you go to be fed? I’d love to for you to share.