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As Simple as That
Forever blowing bubbles
Since coming to Canada to study, Nhi had been lonely. She had made friends in her program, but she lived alone in the tiny apartment her parents had rented for her. It was too quiet.
In Vietnam, Nhi’s home had always been busy—vibrant and alive with the sounds of life being lived. She even missed the sounds of her younger siblings’ squabbles. Mostly, she missed helping her mother make dinner and the long talks they would have while they worked.
When the quiet of her apartment became deafening, Nhi would head out and walk the streets around her neighborhood. Some days that was enough to break her melancholy mood, but other days she would dread returning to her empty home. Until one day she discovered bubbles.
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She’d picked up the first bottle on a whim. As she walked, she blew out a stream of bubbles, then watched them float away. She came to a busy intersection and had to stop at a light. Undaunted, she continued to blow bubbles. A woman pointed them out to her young son. Nhi blew a few in his direction and he jumped into the air to try to pop them.
By the time the light changed, Nhi had drawn a crowd. People who had been frowning, heads down as they walked, laughed and chatted together, pointing at the bubbles filling the air. Nhi’s heart soared into the sky with the escaping globes of soap.
Two months later, Nhi’s weekly bubble shows had become a fixture in her neighborhood. She had made so many friends that she nearly forgot how lonely she’d been. Neighbors with whom she had barely shared a nod as they passed in the hall now invited her for dinner, and Nhi reciprocated, thrilled to show off the meals she had learned to make under her mother’s tutelage.
As she blew hundreds of bubbles, watching the joy they brought to those around her, Nhi marveled at how something as simple as soap had changed her life.
This story was entirely inspired by the picture. Nhi is a Vietnamese name meaning tiny one. I thought it was beautiful and so chose it for my protagonist.
It would be wonderful if loneliness were this easy to fix. When I worked as a physician-psychotherapist at Western University in London, Ontario, some of my patients were foreign students. Sometimes loneliness was an issue for them. If only I had had such a simple, joyous fix for them!