“When will you get married?” Bich, an English teacher at my school, asked me. I laughed and said not for a very long time. On the ride home, Chung, the other English teacher, articulated my reasoning.
“You want to live freely and independently?” she said.
“Exactly,” I said.
Even though I am only 20 (or 21 in Vietnamese years), people ask me about marriage all the time. Here, people often marry around age 25, which is similar to America, but marriage is a topic I do not plan to be involved in personally for quite awhile. I can’t even commit to brushing my hair, let alone another human being.
Speaking of hair, humidity officially took its toll on mine when I neglected to brush it for almost two weeks. The nest I grew in that time required almost an hour to sort through, and when I finished, I decided to make the responsible choice and cut it all off, lest some creatures burrow in it the next week. So, on Saturday, Chung took me to U.S.A. International Academy, a Vietnamese hair salon that has never actually cut a foreigner’s hair before. This was also my first haircut not done by Patti, who has cut my hair pretty much since birth.
I instantly became a celebrity there and the whole two-hour ordeal was also a photoshoot. In the end, I obtained liberation from my mane and a new Facebook friend. Then they had to bring up marriage again.
“The boy who is cutting my hair says that because you are so beautiful, a lot of boys will cry when you get married,” Chung said.
After that, we went directly to a wedding, where, like American weddings, people got a little drunk and, unlike American weddings, really wanted to take pictures with me. One man even introduced himself by saying “I love you.” I swear, if anyone needs a confidence boost or wants to feel like Taylor Swift for a day, just go to a rural area in a developing country and be yourself. That’s all it takes.
The Vietnamese wedding took place over two days, both at homes. On Saturday, people ate and drank and talked. On Sunday, the festivities began at the bride’s house, where the newlyweds allegedly kissed for the first time, and then transitioned to the groom’s house, where the celebration concluded. The only cultural difference that saddened me was the complete lack of dancing (the best part of American weddings).
To complete my rhyme scheme, I must talk about a bridge. I have learned that here, when people invite you to their home, it is often a 24-hour ordeal. So, when Bich invited me to her home on Friday, I knew that I would be there Saturday morning, when I would also need to run. She offered to bike alongside me, which elated me because I have been alone on every single run; my spirits only got higher when I awoke Saturday morning to wet ground and a sprinkle in the air. Nothing makes me happier here than rain. I wish it rained every day. We went on to have a marvelous long run on a trail that crossed a bridge. That’s all I have to say about the bridge.
So, I end this week (almost a month in!) unmarried, with shorter hair, and on the same side of the bridge where I began. And with less than 100 pages left until I have finished all six books I brought.