Being ‘stuck’ in Vietnam for 13 months and counting as covid does its shitty thing has made me realise something: my life is one long honeymoon period. Or, it was until now.
You know that feeling when everything is glowy and lovely and you’re still regularly shaving your parts? When you feel like you’re walking on clouds and everything is a dream? Well, after I passed the six-month mark in Vietnam I threw away my metaphorical razors and settled into ‘real life’. The glow has faded, the initial excitement has died down. I’ve settled into a routine and every day is more or less the same.
I know this is normal to most folks and you’re probably reading this thinking please shut up. But I have my reasons for this little grumble. In fact, I have four reasons. Here they are…
I’m not the best at mental health. I’m not the worst, either. But I’ve had my fair share of busted brain issues. The good thing about being a little nomadic gal is that you can literally run away from your problems (when I say literally I obviously don’t mean it in the literal sense – have you ever known me to run anywhere?).
That’s a big part of why I left England four years ago in the first place. I was a bit (very) miserable and needed to shake things up a bit. To feel alive again. And it worked! Bouncing around the world is a great distraction from your brain malfunctioning and also gives you loads of thinking time to work through anything you might need to tackle. But it’s extremely hard to bounce around (aka run away from your problems) when a global pandemic is on the loose.
So instead, like many folks during covid, I’ve had to work on myself. And it has been roughhh. Discovering ways of being happy that don’t involve panic buying a plane ticket to another continent is probably a good thing in the long run, and defo a more responsible approach to life. But it’s also loads harder and by ‘eck I miss a good escape.
Since childhood, I’ve been a quitter. My parents will attest to that fact. They patiently sat by while I did trampoline for a bit, then kickboxing. And violin. And choir. And swimming. And singing lessons. Etc. Even as an adult I have an incredibly short attention span. Have you seen how often I’ve neglected this blog??
Now Vietnam has closed its borders I’m bloody stuck doing my extracurricular activities week after week (when we aren’t in lockdowns obviously). I seem to spend every spare minute sweating my sizeable tits off doing sport in 40°c heat. And some days I fully hate it. But I can’t actually admit that I’m ready to stop doing all of my hobbies and want to spend my spare time just lying down.
Usually, I get away with it by just leaving the country. Like “oh no I can no longer go to this gym four times a week because I don’t live in the same country as it anymore”. But I guess for now I’m trapped here getting fitter and healthier. Fuck sake.
Falling in love with new pals is the same feeling as falling in love with new partners. Those initial first dates where you’re figuring each other out and seeing if you’re compatible are exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure. There’s just so much gorgeous potential with new friendship-love. Finding rad buddies to explore a new city with is mega fun. Only seeing the good things about each other is super cute. Getting pissed and telling each other all your dirty little secrets is the best.
But then, just the same as romantic love, the newness fades away and the reality of your relationship becomes clear. You settle into real life and you begin to notice that your friendship isn’t perfect. That you each have your quirks and are definitely a tiny bit annoying. You have to work at your love to keep it going. This can obviously be a great thing and ultimately creates lasting and much more nourishing friendships (shout out to my lifelong pals who I love 100%). It’s just not as easy as having short-term friendships based on day trips and nights out is all I’m saying.
The other good thing about my honeymoon period life is that if I don’t like people when I’m only staying a while, it doesn’t really matter. I can play nice and then swiftly disappear from their lives at the click of a buy now button on Sky Scanner. This all changes when you’re stuck in a small place and everyone else is stuck there, too. There will inevitably people that you just don’t get along with, and they will inevitably show up everywhere you go. You still have to play nice, but there’s no buy now button to save you. Not fun.
If you’ve read this blog before, you won’t be the slightest bit surprised that Tinder is getting a nice long mention (seriously why aren’t they sponsoring me yet?). You know when a dating app tells you you’ve run out of matches and to go global? That happened to me about eight months ago and since then nobody new has arrived in my city (pandemic and all that*). Dating really loses its shine when you’re being shown the same faces over and over. And it’s worse knowing that your same face is also being shown over and over and everyone is sick of it. I keep changing my photos in an effort to trick someone who’s previously swiped left into giving me a go.
You also have to be proper civil with people, even if they turn out to be twatbags. Because you’re guaranteed to see them out and about every time you leave the house. And don’t even think about nipping for bread in pj’s and last night’s makeup, because you will bump into someone you once wanted to bump uglies with (that’s a grotty saying, isn’t it). And this might be petty, but I never want them to think “bloody hell that was a lucky escape”. So if you see me in a push-up bra at the corner shop, please know that this is why.
That leads me on to the other issue with dating in a place where everyone is stuck: nobody ever leaves. In my normal country-hopping life, I usually arrive in a new place, Tinder the shit out of it, then get out of there so I never have to deal with the consequences of my actions. Like that time I accidentally was a homewrecker in Colombia or when I had a series of unfortunate Tinder times in Mexico. Well, I did loads of wreckless dating when I first arrived in Vietnam and have been paying for it ever since. Have you ever seen four ex’s in one bar on the same night? I have and it’s as grim as it sounds.
*I obviously wasn’t meeting people when there were covid restrictions.