God, where to begin?
I just… can’t believe I have only one more month left here and then I’m off to Seoul. This has been the single, most eye-opening-see-how-this-small-world-works-and-learn-more-than-I-probably-ever-wanted-to-know-about-myself experience so far (okay, so I went a little hyphen-happy… oops, there it is again).
Emotions were running high back in January, after welcoming my soldier home from Iraq, then getting married, then spending 10 amazing days together, only to be separated again… gah. Talk about pulling at your heart strings. With all the ups and downs, it’s astonishing what the heart can endure.
Welcome home, Captain. Marry the love of your life. Everything is right with the world. Bliss beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. Gain a new amazing family. Cherish every moment. Say goodbye to the new husband. Get on the plane. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep breathing. Don’t fall apart.
After arriving in Saigon the next morning… I remember standing in my hotel room, Freaking Out (the kind that warrants capitalization). I’m seriously talking a ’what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here-I’m-way-in-over-my-head’ kind of freaking out. I’ve never experienced this before. And so then I started freaking out even more because it was like, ’what the hell IS this craziness?!’ So I guess I started freaking out about Freaking Out (wait, what? gah… nevermind).
Here I was, all by myself, in this 3rd world Communist country… so far removed from anyone or anything familiar. I’d never before felt so completely alone. I’ve always considered myself highly adaptable, because I’ve lived in so many different places, so often… traveling was never a big deal to me. To up and move to an entirely different part of the world was routine. And here I was, experiencing this strange Freakout Session and not quite understanding why. So I start giving myself a pep talk: ’Jen, why are you freaking out? You’re a veteran, a world-traveller, why is this any different?’
I remember feeling like I could pace myself in circles, boring a hole right through the earth that would take me all the way back to the US.
So I thought, ’okay, focus on one thing… just ONE thing at a time. Take a shower. You can do that. Piece of cake. Just ONE thing. Take off your clothes, turn on the water, open the shower door, and get in.’
This is how jarring an experience it was… to have to talk myself through such a mundane task was frightening.
After allowing myself some time to adjust to my new life, I was ready to go out and see everything I could. I wandered the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, forcing myself to ’sight-see’. Then I went back to my hotel room and didn’t leave it except to play the shows at night. I was beginning to realize that no matter how beautiful the cymbidium orchids looked, or how incredible the food tasted, nothing meant anything because I didn’t have anyone to share it with. If I happened by something amazing, I couldn’t point and say, ’hey, isn’t that amazing?’ and the other person say, ‘yeah, pretty amazing.’
I started realizing that it’s not things, but people that matter. I also started questioning my ambition. I thought, ’if I’m feeling so depressed about this whole thing, and it’s everything I’ve ever asked for, am I really an artist? I am finally able to play music, make a decent living, but I would give it all up in a heartbeat, to be with Adam. What kind of artist does that make me? I’m a fraud. Who am I? My entire life has been driven by this one passion, and now that I’m forced to question that? Whoa. I’m in deep trouble.’
I’ve learned that there are two primary choices in life: to accept the conditions as they exist, or to accept the responsibility for changing them. So I forced myself to get over myself and start living like a normal human being again.
Okay, so cut to present-day. I’m fully adapted and rediscovering the joy of music again. Every night I play is a blessing. Every night I get to meet someone who has been listening is a blessing. I’m experiencing Saigon as I should have 2 months ago. I’m still missing Adam, but I’m taking everything in, letting it affect me, change me, mold me into a more multi-faceted person.
I know this must sound like I’m complaining. I’m not. This has been, so far, a chapter in my life that I could never have imagined for myself. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to see the world like this, all the while playing music every night. I really am so thankful for this opportunity. It just took me a second to take advantage of it.
I have one more month left here and I’m taking it for all its worth.