I wish I could write like her.

The Squeaky Robot

Five years ago, I decided I would love Hanoi. I was reading a travel piece on it while waiting for my dentist to finish drilling holes into someone else’s head. It seemed like a place for romantics – the literary romantics, the ones who can stare at a leaf for three hours and see the whole universe, the ones who spot a lone red balloon and are suddenly devastated. It seemed like Hanoians hovered on their scooters and bikes, creating a ceaseless, connected blur from dawn to dusk and through the night like a floating infinity symbol. It would be a place where I could be alone and not feel alone. Color would be everywhere.

These are lofty expectations. I typically don’t nurture these idealisms because the very hallmark of an ideal is its unattainability. Having absolutely no expectations for any place is the safest bet, and it often enables…

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