I found this in a book I was looking at for my research paper on Globalization and Vietnam Society. The book was Social Change in Southeast Asia and published in 1998. The letter was written on January 11th, 2007. I found it 4 years later, 2011. The letter is from a girl name “Nicole” to a guy named “Tim” and she was expressing her love and appreciation of him during their time spent together in Asia. I really hope he got this letter before leaving it in this book. It got me thinking about my own past experience in Vietnam. I remember crying so much at the last UCHANU dinner that all my makeup was smeared off and no matter what, the tears just wouldn't stop. It was so heartbreaking having to say good-bye to everyone, not knowing when we will see each other again, or if we'll keep in touch, and letting go of the memories. My biggest fear coming back to America was that I would forget my life in Vietnam, that I would all to easily re-emerge back into my surroundings in America as though I had never left. Reading this letter reminded me of how that can never be possible and that the experiences I've had, the people I've met have completely changed my life and myself whole utterly. I would tell everyone I've come across how much they made my experience so worth the trip. Not only Vietnam, but also the many people that I’ve come across who I’ve grown to love and appreciate and all the people that I’ve known I’ve grown attached to in my life but never really told them out loud how much I love and appreciate them and our friendship. Taking a break from my research paper, Here it is:
January 11th, 2007
I can’t tell you enough how glad I am that you came to Asia for the holidays. My tears in Bangkok were preventing me from expressing myself fully.
It’s incredible when you spend every moment with a person for a month – and suddenly that person is gone – life as you’ve come to know it is altered. There are pieces of you all around me: traces of the baby power bomb you dropped in my bathroom, Pol Poc, Red Dust, and Yrahm Yreene, the beautiful tea set (which I cherish), your stomach rubbing oil, photographs, my backpack – which I still cannot bring myself to unpack because doing so I suppose would be an admittance that the trip is indeed over.
But, what I have the most of is – the things you taught me, and the countless moments that filled me up. I’ve been thinking about how crazy we are – to have done this trip. To spend our time getting to know each other in crowded hotel rooms, bumpy buses and very intense, high-pressure situations. It was at times hard for both of us, I know… and without the ability to step away, take a break, reflect – we had to trudge forward with our adventure. It was full-on, and there are times that I regret not communicating better, clamming up or being snappy, sometimes showing the opposite of what I wanted to. I wanted so badly to do right by you. Forty-eight hours later, sorting through it all, I miss you – you’ve become someone I care about immensely. And, as I did in Madison, I feel inspired that another crazy person exists in the world- willing to do the crazy thing – to just do it, press click, to go, to seize the moment.
I’m not sure if I told you enough that I appreciate you. There are many things about you that over the past few weeks I have come to love. In the rapid pace and exhaustions of travel these are things that you sometime fail to mention. I love how you lie on your stomach and pull all the covers over your head, how you pace the room aimlessly looking for something/nothing like a reflexive morning routine, how you apply hair gel. I love watching the way you talk to people, your kind and giving smile and ability to communicate through laughter and positive energy, the way you appreciate a good hard-boiled egg on a mountain top, how you appreciate lots of little things, how you awkwardly answered, “two years” then sheepishly turned to me and said, “that sound about right?”, how you are unendingly generous, how you put yourself in uncomfortable seats in order to make me more comfortable and then lied and said you liked it better in the uncomfortable seats, how your impulse was to protect me always, how you tell assholes to “be nice”, how you always ask, “got everything?”, how your whole self is positively elated by a motorbike and an open road (me too!), how you made me feel more beautiful in the past weeks than I have ever, ever felt in my whole life, the way you eat baguettes, your sleeping morning face, the way you look at me when we make love, the way your hand feels in mine – constant, calming, gentle, trustworthy – when there are no more words to say, and exhaustion has won over me. I love your love of knowledge and learning. I love your ambition. I love your tenderness. I love your sense of self. I love your intellect and your unbridled sense of adventure. I love rolling over in bed and putting my hand on your stomach. I love your strength. I love many things about you, this is just as start.
Whatever happens – know these things. Thank you for the most intense, beautiful, eye-opening, challenging trip of my life.
I love you too.
I hope I can find you one day Tim and Nicole, and that you're somewhere married.