Updated: Sep 18, 2019
It was so simple, and I've been so blind.
November 17, 2017, Somewhere in Vietnam. I'm once again on a bus with some people I just met, who have just spent the last two nights showing me around southern and western Vietnam.
Outside the windows spread vast rice and vegetable crops surrounded with palm and banana trees, green as far as the eye can see.
Except for the road, where the black asphalt starts showing through the white road paint due to all the wear from cars and busses such as the one I'm in. Dirt stains from rain have turned the cement from the median and occasional overpass a similar shade of marbled black.
As I'm turning my head to take in as much of the Vietnam views as possible, I look ahead and see a dark grey Toyota Highlander.
In a single second I'm suddenly feeling summer all over again.
My mom's dark grey Toyota Highlander, which she rarely drove since I was always using it to get to work. But work always started so early and went til so late that I'd come home long after she fell asleep and leave hours before she woke up. Sometimes, I wouldn't come home at all. I'd drive the highlander to the beach and open the trunk to lay down and sleep under the stars. Sometimes, I'd call a few friends to pick them up and we'd all fall asleep under the stars around a dying bonfire, the dark grey Toyota Highlander sitting watch twenty feet away.
I wouldn't come home for days on end, except to either pick up some extra clothes and my surfboards so I could stay as close to work and the beach as possible.
Other times, one of my best friends, Nalamakū, would pick me up in her car and we'd pass my mom on the motorway and wave, then she'd smile and wave back. It always made me smile for some reason. We didn't talk much this summer, but we'd recognize each other from her car.
In the span of the same second I felt my heart perk up and instantly pick up my hand to lean over and wave at my mom, knowing I'd see her at home in a few days, then make my home in the Toyota Highlander later that day.
The second ends.
I'm not home, but the view, the feelings and the Toyota Highlander made me feel like it was for a fleeting--yet satisfying--second.
Here I am in Vietnam, chasing wanderlust and searching for a home on the opposite side of the globe, when I remember how my home was, for so long, under the stars, on the sand and around a fire, but more often than not, my little home was a dark grey Toyota Highlander that carried me through the storm that was the summer of '17.
Vietnam, I've found, looks like home.