I am quite fond of birthdays. I do not fear my age or getting older. This year I turned 30. I am a planner and list maker. I have long said I would work hard in my 20s, become financially secure then travel and work abroad in my 30s. I spent a month in Costa Rica at yoga teacher training this spring. Here I am spending a year in Laos. It feels incredible to turn my goals and dreams into a reality.
There are 9 new fellows who came to Laos with me and one of them turns 22 today. 22. That feelslike a lifetime ago. Happy Birthday to you! Another year older and another year wiser. 22 revolutions around the sun. 8,035 days of being alive romping around planet Earth. I hope you had fun at dinner last night and the headache over 10 people trying to split a check didn’t drive you insane.
I hope you had fun at your apartment after. It’s a very cute place. I see why you like it, with the fish pond, covered garage, and balcony. You managed quite the spread with drinks, fruits, snacks and those mango jellies your aunt made. Is it strange or comforting to be so close to family that’s been so far away for so long? Did you enjoy your family party during the day and your friends party at night? Did you stay up late dancing into the wee hours of the morn?
On my 22nd birthday I had just returned to campus for second semester senior year. I threw an Aliens vs. Robots party. I wore a silver toga and my hair in futuristic twists. My friend DJ’d. We pushed all the furniture against the walls. There was a smoke machine. We drank and danced. The house was packed. People drove from Cincinnati, and from Columbus to partake in the festivities and stayed over night. We poured baileys into apple pucker to make an oozy green and gooey shot. We were wild, young and free.
I don’t know who I would have been had I come to Laos immediately after graduation instead of teaching in the states. You have a leg up speaking the language (even if you say you speak like a child.) And the benefit of your grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins nearby. Treat them as a blessing even when they feel like a burden. You have spunk, an unbridled desire to create positive change and a way of seamlessly slipping between Lao and American culture that I will never match. I can’t wait to see how this year plays out for you and where this life takes you next. Your new short hair is adorable; a mature tradition from college student to working adult. Your future is bright like the shining young star you are.
From me, a Falang American Abroad, to you, a Lao-American visiting extended family, returning to your roots, establishing yourself in the mother land: Happiest of Happy Birthdays. Make a wish when you blow out those candles. Then work to make that wish come true.