When packing, moving, and unpacking (as I am doing today), one often pulls out findings from the past. I dug up this journal entry from my trip to Vietnam:
“Wed/Thurs (July 28, 2011)
“TAM DAO –
“Yesterday was truly exhausting, mentally, emotionally, physically. This morning when I woke up, I had been sleeping deeply. My last dream was with ______ at a house like my parents’ only with more Vietnamese colors and light. I can’t remember any details except that we were in the living/dining room with sliding French doors. I think it is an expression of my longing for familiarity and comfort. I think we were trying to figure something out, like how today I must figure out how to get back “home,” or Hanoi, rather. Today, right now, I am all packed, dressed, and ready to go. Packed is quite an overstatement though, because I didn’t bring any overnight stuff with me to Tam Dao because I thought I could do it in a day trip. I’m very glad to have spent the night, however, so that I could enjoy yesterday without having to worry about my way back to Hanoi.
“Like I said, I am ready to leave the Hotel, except that I am not ready to put on my public self. This has been the most tiring part of traveling alone, which is that every time I step outside my private hotel room,
I feel a little I am a part of another world with a language and culture so different from my norm, so that I am always conscious of my outer skin, my contact with this world, my appearance. I don’t feel ready yet to go and smile and try to order breakfast at a local place where people are so kind and friendly. They can’t be made to see how I’m feeling inside, they shouldn’t see a worried look on my face or it will translate into something else, that there is something wrong with my food, or that I am scared or lost (which I am, but I believe I can take care of my situation now, and the people I see out this morning should not have to feel this.)
“Because there is so so much that people can read off each other on faces and with body language, but verbal language can (?) it, because of human complexity and our ability to think on things not in the present, our emotions can show at a different moment than when they are relevant. So without the ability to contextualize my emotion with words, I don’t dare show people in Tam Dao my anxiety or exhaustion.”
The entry continues on.
Devon Midori Hale
Some amazing further research/reading: The Social Skin, by Terence Turner