One thing I have learned in my 18 years as an expat is that you open a lot of doors. Throw in a few windows and you keep yourself pretty busy trying to keep your expat world in order. This thought came to me today as I assembled all my 'expat england' photos into one file. I admit there were quite a few heart strings that were pulled as I went along. Photos of family gatherings, expeditions into the English countryside and quiet sojourns into London are now collected into one file. I had to pinch myself, it's surreal to think of a time when I walked to the local train station to catch a 20 minute ride into London.
When we boarded the plane for Vietnam, leaving England behind, I found the easiest way to make the transition was to shut the door until I was ready to open it again. If I had made the transition from a Southeast Asian city to Saigon I would probably have left the door ajar. The differences would not have been so extreme. To move from Surrey to Saigon was a jolt to the senses, I knew I would need time to decompress, if I hadn't closed that door for a time I would have sat on the fence with one foot in each country unable to embrace what was in front of me.
I see it often in Vietnam, that dazed look in a new expats eyes, wondering where they are going, how they will cope and steady themselves for the new experiences ahead of them. I want to tell them it's a matter of doors and windows. You have to know when to shut and open them until you set yourself right.
As for me, the doors are open, the windows are up and I am once again moving through my expat world with greater ease. I know, because it brought me here, to the house below. I would pass it nearly every day on my bike ride into the local village. Every once in a while, just before I turned the corner from our street, I would slow down...stop..and snap a photo. I captured it in all seasons, my favorite being summer and winter.
My view today is very different as I ramble along the streets of Saigon but I feel so very fortunate to have had those days where I imagined the life beyond the garden, the windows and doors that graced this beautiful home. I still wonder...but from further afar...and am so very thankful for the time we had in England.
A passing view in Surrey, England...
From snowy Surrey to our mango coloured home in Saigon,
where my English Pashley awaits.
Sending you 'beep, beeps' from Saigon.
until I return with another English memory.