A New Definition on Necessity

I’m having a hard time connecting. I remember in college going shopping and finding cute clothes that I wanted, trying them on, buying them, loving them for the shear idea that they were cute. A new purse, earrings, jeans…etc., all of these things didn’t mean anything to me besides the fact that they fit, they looked nice or they accessorized my life a bit more. I’ve lost that.

            Recently, I truly only buy most things out of necessity. Well, I mean, necessity used in a loosely translated way—I suppose I don’t absolutely need a new candle or book, but both of these things brighten my day and help me pass the time with out turning on the television, helps me learn, and makes my room smell delicious. So necessity is what I buy for.

            I’ve been on the hunt for a new purse lately. I have one great, leather purse that I bought in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love it. I cherish it, it’s something that I will literally have forever. I met the man that sewed it together and hand picked the hardware that goes so perfectly with the construction. This bag has a story. When I go to the store, the mall, Target, I don’t feel anything when I see the bags there. I see them as cheap, wrinkly, pieces of fabric that won’t do anything for me. So I wander the earring section—looking for a new pair of dangly earrings that might give me that bit of rush because of that instant, quick purchase. All I end up seeing are pieces of plastic that realistically, make me kind of sad sitting there on the shelf.

            The earrings that I bought in Vietnam were hand made by a tribes woman’s father. I spent all day with this woman. They wear the same pairs that I bought from their hands. The bracelet I wear (and haven’t taken off since) was given to me by the same hilltribe woman in Sapa, Vietnam, same with my ring. These pieces of jewelry have soul, have memories. They have stories. Even my silly costume jewelry has a memory of wandering Kao San Road at midnight while I dodged tourist eating fried scorpions and I haggle with the shopkeepers in broken Thai.


I’m down to necessity and stories. But even, the word necessity is being stretched. I like having little. And the little that I have have stories that I love to tell.




Necessity: wanting or needing something that will make your life a bit easier, more comfortable, fun or exciting.

            Example: a new book, some lush lotion or a new sports bra in a fun color.

A lovely smelling candle while I read my book is a necessity.


 ImageBelow: Thai costume jewelry. Above: Vietnamese ring



Favorite Moment: Vietnam

I don’t know if I screamed before I crawled on my bleeding knees through the dust to turn the key of the fallen motorbike. Nothing, but a bit of my pride, hurt at that moment.

A Vietnamese man grabbed my hand, while another propped the motorbike back up on its kickstand. He led to me a water tank, gave me soap and a bucket and motioned for me to wash the dust off of myself—he disappeared into a near by hut.

My friend had yelled Oh my god! after the fall. She watched it, it could have been worse, but we were still not in a good position. Vulnerable. She watched him prop up the bike and he signaled for her to join him to drink something.

The man returned with a tin of Tiger Balm, he slathered my cuts with the medicated cream, but only after he patted my legs, arms and hand dry with a clean cloth. Kindness. He placed the tin in my palm and closed my hand, meaning that this was for me to keep. Generosity.


He led me to where my friend was drinking green tea and playing a game of language barrier charades with another Vietnamese man, this was a game we had both mastered after months of being expats. After many rounds we won, and had communicated the story of the broken bike. The Vietnamese, mechanical motorbike geniuses, took 15 minutes and had solved the problem. Go-getters. They asked for nothing in return and sent us on our way.

This was my favorite Vietnamese moment.



Need Vs Want

I have an on going list of things that I need to buy when I return Stateside. With every goal I think I’m setting comes another large purchase.

  • A smartphone. To text, facebook, and tweet.
  • A new computer. To facebook, tweet, email and maybe write.
  • A juicer. To try and replicate the juices I’ve had in SE Asia.
  • A car. To jam out to tunes when karaoke bars are not readily available.
  • A down payment on an apartment. To store all my new purchases.
  • A bike tune up (x2, I have 2 bikes.) I guess for safety.
  • Plane tickets. To see my best friend get married.
  • Micro brew beer. To drink.
  • New running shoes. To run.

The list continues on with things like a new wardrobe, shoes and other things. Which is what all of these objects are, things I need. Wait. Need? Need or want? Realistically, I’ve been living out of a backpack for months and have done just fine with out any of these things. Need vs. Want. When you truly narrow it down, what do you actually need?

 I spent the day trekking through the mountains of Loi Cai with a Vietnamese Hill Tribe woman for hours, she welcomed me into her home and cooked me lunch while her family wandered in and out of the small building. Her kitchen was a pot, a hole in the floor for fire and a spicket outside. Her living room was a dirt floor void of furniture. The most extravagant things she owned was her clothing and jewelry—most of which was made either by herself or one of her village people. This was truly minimalist living.

I asked her if she was happy. Happy bringing travelers like me into her village for the day, living the way she does—her genuine smile answered the question without words.