Trinh Thao Nguyen was born on Monday, November 2nd, 1992, in the heart of Saigon, Vietnam. Her parents are from former North and South Vietnam. At 16 years old, Trinh’s father, Toan, traveled from Vietnam to Poland by train to study maritime engineering in Poland and returned five years later to work in Vietnam’s ports. Trinh’s mother, Thao, the daughter of academics, grew up in the Mekong Delta City Can Tho. In the early 1990s, they married and had Trinh and her brother Thien.
Like a typical Monday baby, Trinh excelled in communication. Trinh spent her early years, accompanying her mom at her family’s jewelry shop and reading translated English books chapter-by-chapter. Trinh lived through tumultuous years as her father started his now-successful business during the early years of free enterprise in Vietnam. Having lived on “both sides of town”, Trinh grew up to be grateful and compassionate. These two ingredients help her effortlessly speak her truth, forgive, and make lemonade from lemons.
Like her Dad, Trinh moved overseas at sixteen to study. She completed high school and undergrad in Seattle. She absorbed American culture, fast food, and music. She adopted five dogs, drove a used car, and lived an Americana life. In 2014, after graduating Trinh returned to Vietnam and started her first career as a software project manager.
In 2014, at age 25, I matched with Trinh, then 22, on Tinder – when I moved to Vietnam to teach English. During our first date, the first thing she said to me was, ” So tell me a joke”. I immediately connected with Trinh’s genuine humor. She and I grew closer while exploring young adulthood, making friends, and creating our own jokes, songs, and dances. In June 2015, I returned to the US for a year. Trinh and I endured a challenging year apart. In July 2016, I took an internship in Thailand to return to Asia and be closer to Trinh. For the next year, Trinh and I took turns visiting each other in Vietnam and around Asia.
In 2017, I moved back to Vietnam to work – and live with Trinh. From then onward, Trinh and I lived together like typical millennials with weekend trips around Vietnam, fussing over the dishes, playing music, and making friends. In May 2018, Trinh visited my family in New Jersey and New York. Trinh attended my grandmother’s funeral and got to know us at our most vulnerable. My family was thrilled to meet her. I’ve learned Vietnamese to speak with Trinh’s parents throughout the years living in Saigon during our weekly family meals together. Trinh and I have hosted video calls for our families to meet. During the pandemic, Trinh joined my family’s virtual meet-ups. My five-year-old niece has known Trinh her whole life as “Aunt Trinh.”
Coming from a family history of multi-generation divorce, my certainty in our marriage is a testament to my faith in Trinh as my partner and friend. Through the ups and downs of life together, Trinh helps me see the silver linings. She is patient with my quirks and makes us laugh over the hiccups of day-to-day life. I am blessed to have an honest, patient, and joyful partner in Trinh.