Monday, August 29, 2011

The End

As all my loyal readers know, I started this blog for my mom. I thought it would be easiest for her to know what I was up to if I posted a day-to-day account of my life when I left America. My mom's a mom and mom's worry. We all know that. The blog was meant for her to ease her nerves while enjoying my adventure. The fact that 75,860 unique visitors from 170 countries/territories started to read my blog just became a bonus and some extra writing motivation over the last few years.

Instead of going out with a bang, I'm sad to say that Ahoy Hanoi has fizzled to say the least. After writing nearly a blog a day for three years, I've written less than one a week since coming home. And well, I'm sorry about that. The truth is though, it's my mom's fault. Yup, that's right, I'm blaming my mom. Now that I'm living back home, my number one reader gets her Ahoy Hanoi updates straight from the blogger's mouth. Okay, it's not totally my mom's fault. Just like 96%.

I've thought for a while about how I wanted to end my blog. I thought about writing a giant thank you list like I did two years ago when I first left Vietnam on May 8, 2009. But I've already done that and truthfully, most of the people I would be thanking would be the same people I've already thanked. I thought about doing one final video of all my time abroad but I'm pretty sure most of my readers are over my videos.

Instead, I want to try and give the moral to my story as I see it.

In 2007 I wasn't happy. Frankly, I was probably depressed. My life wasn't where I wanted it to be. I had moved to LA to become a writer and I had failed miserably at that. I was working on a reality TV show that I hated and felt like I was wasting away, spending long days in a dark edit suite. On the relationship front, well, there was no front. I hadn't had a meaningful long term relationship in about seven years and didn't have any prospects on the horizon. To top everything off, I was living far from my family and my closest friends. Yeah, things weren't great.

I'm not exactly sure when I first got the idea to drop everything and move to Vietnam. Regardless of when it happened, it sparked something inside of me. I've always been a person who does what he says. Once I verbalized that I was moving to Vietnam there was no stopping me. I sold all of my things including my car and furniture. I donated a ton of clothing to the Salvation Army and then packed up all my stuff. I had whittled down my possessions to so little that I was able to get it all back to the East Coast by having three friends and my sister take home an extra suitcase for me when they flew back for the holidays. Truly, I was starting with a blank slate.

When I flew out of JFK on February 2nd, 2008 I had no idea what to expect. Even as a writer, I couldn't have imagined the stories and experiences I would have over the next three and a half years. At some point recently, I realized that I had spent more time in Vietnam than I did in Syracuse, my alma matter. That realization hit a chord in me. Vietnam was truly like a second education for me; it was my graduate school for life.

When I left LA, I had failed as a writer. When I returned to America I had written over 1,200 blog entries AND had a screenplay optioned for an original family comedy script I wrote. I had never had a script optioned in LA, yet had one optioned while living on the other side of the world. The script presently has a director attached to it and the production company is paying me to do a rewrite and a polish on it. This isn't even close to being a big deal in Hollywood, but it's a big deal to me. On top of that, Huyen and I went to LA for three weeks last month where I had a bunch of meetings. Hopefully the writing career will continue to move forward...but if it doesn't, so what. There's other things in life that are more important. I can honestly say that one day teaching at the school Huyen and I started was more rewarding than any paycheck I ever earned.

When I left LA, I was single. Well, obviously that's not the case anymore. Everyone knows my love story. Most of you feel like you know it too well. For those of you who somehow stumble on to this blog, here's the jist of it: During the first week I was living in Hanoi, I met the love of my life. Huyen has changed my life for the better and, just from two months in America, I can already see her changing my family for the better too. No matter how long I live, I'll always be thankful for meeting Huyen.

When I left LA, I was living far away from my family and closest friends. Logically one would think that moving to Vietnam wouldn't solve that problem but somehow it did. Not only was I welcomed with open arms into Huyen's amazing family but I also made some great new friends. Upon leaving Vietnam, I thought we would have to make a tough decision on where to live in the USA. It would be easier for both Huyen and me to find work in California (besides Hollywood, there's a huge Vietnamese population in California that Huyen could have networked with). However, there was no decision to be made. Huyen laid down the law and said we were gonna move to NJ/NY so we could be close to our family.

So what's the moral of my story? Well, it's simple: Live life.

It's so easy to get stuck in the daily pattern of life. Well, sometimes we need to change things up and just go for it. Moving to Vietnam was the best decision of my life. There's no doubt about that. However, one doesn't have to do something so drastic. If you hate your job, quit it. Things will work out. If you're miserable in your relationship, end it. Things will work out. If there's a girl or boy you like but are scared to ask out, go for it! What's the worst that can happen? If you wish you could spend more time with your family, do it! Don't talk about it. Do it! Live life!

With that, Ahoy Hanoi has come to an end. However, don't fret. From time to time I might post some epilogues. For example, Huyen and I are planning on going to Hanoi next February for Tet. I'm sure there will be lots of fun stories to write about after nearly a year away.

And for those of you who like Huyen more than me (which is probably everyone who has met her), get ready for some great news -- Huyen is starting her own blog. Check it out: Photastic USA!!!