This is my response to Prompt 4 to the CommnonApp: describe a place where you feel perfectly content. I have submitted this version to a few schools but it did not feel very well. So, any feedback is welcome and appreciated! Thank you so much!
That road was named after a modern poet, entitled the King of Love Poetry.
I have always remembered sitting on the back of Mom's scooter, passing that road everyday. To my right was a second Shangri La - the truly magnificent West Lake of Hanoi, with twinkling water surfaces and breath-taking sunsets. To the left, I was hit by such different vibe. Grey, poorly-constructed houses consecutively appeared as we rode down the place, only to be interrupted by thick sheoak bushes growing wild on empty land. Inspired by Mr. Rob Reiner, I called it "Where Gloomy Met Classy".
Many people regarded "Gloomy" as a blot on the landscape. Strangely enough, the image of its sheoak bushes on which grew slender, reddish dodder stems stuck to my nascent mind like the melodies of an unknown radio song. Mom answered me one day from the front seat of her scooter, that the dodder plant in Vietnamese had an unusual street name called "Red Thread". Ringing any bell? If yes, you must have read about the Eastern mythical red cord that invisibly connects destined lovers. Oriental myths excited me, and with that my love for this imperfect road and its mismatching features sparkled, as naturally as the way "Classy" and "Gloomy" composed the impeccable orchestra sound.
It is difficult to spot dodder strings on the road nowadays. Now the heart of a dynamic tourism center, the road is polished with first-rate hotels and luxurious restaurants. Vietnam in eight years of development has waved its magic wand and "Gloomy" turned "Glory"!
As a result, my rides on the road are now thrilling under a whole different light. On bicycle, I'm treated an amazing feast for the nose every morning. The beautifully balanced, mouth-watering combination of odors of freshly-baked French croissants, joined by succulent Turkish doner kebabs, tangled in the heart of flavorful Chinese wonton noodles and perfected by the touch of Vietnamese pho enriches the air. In the afternoon, foreigners are out and about on the road, strolling with shopping bags in hand, talking in different languages and even biking alongside.
There is no evidence of Gloomy left. The change is so extensive that at times I feel like having moved to a different place. But one thing remains the same. Passing the Lake every time still brings me the warm, anticipating and blissful sensation of being seconds from home. Why my all-time favorite song is the one played on local radio everyday, why my family never misses to visit the local pagoda every Lunar New Year, ... now I understand. The bond I have with my Vietnamese heritage is like a red thread - invisible but unbreakable.
That "red thread" also exists in what happens everyday on this road. It lies in the way my morning feast would not be complete lacking any element. The way foreigners are joining us on our morning jogs, in our Vietnamese restaurants and even our local Dog Lover's Club comes into perfect correlation with how I instinctively smile when showing them the way, helping them order food or enjoying their singing at the nearby bar. Cultures have also found their red threads on my small, meaningful road. The incredible multicultural connection has paved the way into my heart and made me who I am today. No more "Red Threads" standing by the road side, but entitled to the best of both worlds, I now thankfully find them in my heart.
The King of Love Poetry surely had his ways with words. His magic dawned on me like a dream, now I have realized that my fate lies within my very own name, though silly it may seem. "Duong" means the sun and also the sea. Anthony, my Australian neighbor even pronounces my name "Du-gong". I think he has a point. I do bear quite a resemblance to that seemingly hybrid animal, don't you think?