Mopeds and Magic

March 25 2013

Hello stranger. How's your day so far?

Bet you've been patiently waiting for this super inspiring email of the day! Yeah well, this probably won't be it. I attempted that, but then I realized that I sounded ridiculous. Honestly, I'm still too young to give a list of wise life advice and I'm not old/legit enough to have some world-changing business to promote.

If you met me right when I saw the "You've been selected" email, you'd probably laugh at the variety of facial expressions I had at that very moment. Other Listserve lottery winners out there, I am sure you know exactly what I mean when that joyous and "this is unbelievable!!" moment turns into absolute dread and fear. HOLY CRAP, what am I suppose to write to all of these people?!

But if there's one thing I'd like to share, it'd be my short time in Vietnam this past January. It reminded me that no matter how difficult, stressful, or scary life can be, I'd still have this one moment to hold onto. Let me set up the scene for you.

There I was, propped on the back of a dusty, cackling moped, thrusting my hands into the air like some kid on a rollercoaster ride. I was speeding down the roads of Ho Chi Minh City at night with my cousin, feeling the wind crash against my face, watching storefronts blur into lights and colors. It was the most unexpected form of harmony: the unified circling of the mopeds, the sweet smells of grilled sticky rice, and the dazzling flower-shaped lights together shared a story of Vietnam that was equally exhilarating and comforting. At that moment, nothing else mattered but this great sense of euphoria. I knew that when I returned to the US and sat down to record this very moment, this would be my connection to Vietnam, a place that once felt distant, mysterious, and foreign.

Some backstory: My parents came to the US after escaping the horrors of the Vietnam War. Instead of hares and turtles for bedtime stories, I listened in awe to bold stories of escape and freedom. I heard them all: from the stories of the Vietnamese boat people to my mother's early entrepreneurial spirit selling beef jerky to raise money to leave the war-ridden country. If you haven't seen the Google commercial called "Graduation," about the Vietnamese immigrant struggle, you should. That's my mom. Makes me tear every time.

Life's difficult sometimes, but I'm trying to make the best of it, not only for myself but my family. My parents would support me regardless of my career choice, but as a first generation Asian American, I am still responsible for taking care of my parents one day. I'm terrified because I don't really know what I'm doing or where I'm going. But what I do know is that no matter how crazy things get, how scary life can be, I have that moment in Vietnam. A simple moment that's so magical, so magnificent, that the realist in me believes in miracles.

So now it's your turn. Did you ever have a moment like this before? I'd love to hear about it.

PS. If you're interested in food writing and eating (as in everyone), we should share our food adventures together. Find me at my blog called butterandbutter on Tumblr.

Also a program I'm in is doing a photo project called (RE)DEFINING: Identities of Asian America (2013). If you're interested, just google it. We'd love to have more submissions.

I look forward to hearing from all of you,

Francesca H.
[email protected]
Quincy, MA

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