December 2000, I suffered a life-changing incident.
The next 19 years, it seemed, were a strenuous blend of attempting and failure.
Realistically there were minor successes, but they always came at a rate disproportionate to the amount of effort required to achieve the aforementioned breakthroughs.
Almost 20 years on from the moment my life had effectively become a write-off and, as I do still tend to do, I attempted something new.
My career prospects in New Zealand looking decidedly forlorn, I travelled to Vietnam in the hope of training as, and indeed becoming, an English teacher.
As previously documented at https://mitreklaw, following the final day of a gruelling course in Go Vap, Saigon, I stumbled euphorically through the typical Vietnamese footpath bedlam, in what was one of the greatest achievements of my life, as an official TESOL graduate.
It felt as though that was the first time in a long time that gains of any real significance had resulted from prolonged concerted effort on my part.
This TESOL grad then bussed half the length of the country to end up in one of Vietnam’s more sparsely populated cities, coffee capital of Vietnam, also legitimate capital of Dak Lak province, Buon Ma Thuot.
I was immediately welcomed into the community where I was then, mind-blowingly, promptly offered employment by these gracious townsfolk and, essentially, embraced like one of their own.
Every day though, waking before 6 a.m. to the sun streaming through my window and excitedly preparing myself for another wonderful day in Vietnam, I found myself almost waiting for my bubble to burst.
Life in Buon Ma Thuot was like a dream and, like many dreams, it seemed almost too good to be true; I had been successful in everything that I had attempted which was, honestly, unprecedented.
I could scarcely believe my own good fortune, and even as I neared my scheduled return to New Zealand (COVID at that time was wreaking havoc on the world but, in idyllic Buon Ma Thuot, it was difficult to comprehend the existence of anything at all negative) I found myself playing down my ease of life out of fear that it might somehow jinx my situation thus reality would inevitably befall me; yet this amazing run of goodness stayed with me.
From TESOL accreditation to a harmonious life in Buon Ma Thuot, from teaching English to youngsters to being accepted as a local by adults; from the scintillating relationships developed with townsfolk to meeting a truly resplendent young woman…
Some time after that, having had several flights cancelled in the meantime, I managed to catch a plane home.
Let’s stop short of saying my ‘run of luck’ came to an end (it wasn’t luck anyway, it was the result of hard work coupled with good management of the situation mingled with a sprinkling of fairy-dust), but I checked into Auckland quarantine on June 1st, 2020.
After spending every day for five months with my girlfriend in Vietnam, then having been apart for a further eight, fair to say, waiting times have become frustrating.
Personally though, however long it takes, I am going to wait; there is no way, no sense in it, after spending so much time, after investing so much in the life of her and her (my) Vietnamese family, there is no way that I can walk away now.
I am just fortunate that we live amid a time where technology has enabled such easy communication across the world.
Therefore, I guess, as infected idiots cough and splutter their way through gymnasiums in New Zealand, I should be thankful, I should look at the bright side; while she might have doubts over my resolution and maybe I have reservations about hers, at least we can still chat, at least I can still see her pretty face, most days.
…She, for whom I am waiting.
Life is about vicissitudes and how we cope with them.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Wade Ting Fore
Photography by Nguyen Kien Giang