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Every smile has a story

Every smile has a story
5. May 2018 Marek Hrebík

My name is Lauren and I come from England. The story behind my everyday smile started 6 years ago. Picture this. The first, and arguably most potent, love of your life is having a baby with someone else. Other than the facts that he was up front and honest with you, there was no cheating involved and it was your decision to stick it out and see what happened, there’s not much else to say before going off on a ‘life’s full of lemons’ rant.

So, being nineteen and consciously not wanting to become a burdening factor in the situation I thought a stop-gap focusing on myself would in fact strengthen the overall relationship as well as put me in the right direction heading south of ‘Evil Step-motherhood’.

I needed to go away somewhere. I needed to achieve something. The joys of having somewhat of a nomad for a father meant Hanoi, Vietnam was an enticing choice as that was where he was based at the time. I felt 3 months was sufficient enough time in order to achieve my goals of getting my CELTA teaching certificate, spending some quality time with the old man and providing time for my partner to focus on what was important. I had started my degree through the Open University when I was sixteen meaning I was able to study from home as well as work a fulltime job. My plan was to continue studying whilst in Vietnam.

Now, how to actually materialise this?

First step, the conversation with loved ones. Fortunately, this was easy and I was inundated with support. The following task was to request a sabbatical from my job as a shop assistant from the retailer formerly known as BHS where I was granted 3 months unpaid leave. Flights were then booked and the waiting game commenced.

Fast forward 4 months and 3 weeks.

It’s true what they say: ‘what you don’t know you don’t miss’. I did now know. The possibilities of this new life were hitting me. From waking up and actually wanting to go to work to having more freedom to tailor the life I wanted for myself. I’d fallen in love with the children I was teaching and the buzz I got from being in the classroom was something I was becoming fast addicted to. The week before my scheduled return flight to ‘normality’ it started to dawn on me that not only am I returning to a life now jaded but that I am going back to be someone I no longer was.

It was decision time. Three phone calls were made and I did the easiest fist. My employer wished me well and I already felt a weight lifted. The second to my mum, a woman I’m proud to be made by. The fact she knows me and instinctively knew this was going to be a prolonged trip made it emotional but reassuring. The final call. Ever the gentleman, my partner knew that I needed to stay and as hard as it was for both of us to say goodbye, he was only ever encouraging and our relationship ended as it had begun, strong.

It’s hard to put into words the contradictory emotions that were pounding through me. The loss of a relationship but the gain of a new-found independency. I resided myself to the fact that he was meant to be, but for only a chapter, that would lead me to something greater. So, what was a 3 month stop-gap with all intents and purposes to return and continue with ‘the plan’ turned into a 4 and half year life adventure. I’ve now been in Asia for 6 years, out of which 4 were spent in Vietnam and the last 2 in Singapore and I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted my decision. Through everything that life has thrown my way here in Asia, the sense of happiness over my decision has never left me.