I have this dear friend P that lives in Vietnam. P is married to a Vietnamese woman with two children from a previous marriage. They have been together for years. His wife is totally dedicated to P and has this wonderful outlook on life with P. They walk together around Hanoi, take the kids to parks and playgrounds, and socialize like most Vietnamese do at coffee shops and cafes in their neighborhood.
P tells me stories about his day to day living in Hanoi quite often. The little things are big. Like meeting this older Vietnamese man who gave him a hat to wear at a local coffee shop. Now P wears the hat every day just in case he sees the man over coffee or beers. He has not yet.
At the same coffee shop P met a wonderful and engaging Vietnamese woman that talked with him about America, asked questions about this life in Vietnam, and invited P and his wife to dinner. P’s wife is a chef and does food and market tours in Hanoi plus teaching cooking. They both felt so wonderful a vibe from the woman.
It is easy to remember back to my last years living in Vietnam and how many of these letters and messages I got. The kids running up and wanting pictures taken, young people stopping me and asking about life in America, old people gently discussing with google translate my life there in Vietnam then.
Letters that never end from a country that seems to always offer yet another thing around a corner, down a block. This is one of the reasons I decided to start a SubStack newsletter plus blog about what I see as I go back. Each one offers some kind of memory mechanism. But more than memories, each one gives me this mechanism to write and create new stories about my forever going. Visiting and finding the people. But just visiting.
The truth is I cannot just live in Vietnam. That’s probably the one thing that stings but I also realize that I am a wanderer and vagabond and living somewhere will never satisfy me. So I will publish these letters, these thoughts, the stories here and when I get going on SubStack. I’ve created a backlog of things I want to publish on the blog. Ideas about the places I can go both in Asia and in 2023. I see the outlines somewhat vague now of going after a year spent finding Asia. Visiting Malaysia and Singapore. Laos and Vietnam. Finding my way in Cambodia again to so many places and finding old friends.
I miss those places and in 40 some days I’ll renew the acquaintance. To say I am getting anxious about leaving is an understatement. I wrote in my Day One I am done here. There is nothing more to get or give. I want to go back and see my daughter again because my sensation is this time is it for me. There is no coming back to the US this time. There is nothing for me in the US. No one or many things that hold or endear me to the country. It is just another place I spent time, worked for decades, divorced and then found my way out of.
I was very taken with P’s simple language and his stories. He has many of just living in Vietnam. Sometimes over beers(s) we get to them because each one brings out a memory or we remember time spent together in Hanoi at some restaurant or coffee shop or maybe at his house eating wonderful foods from Vietnam and elsewhere.
Stories to tell. Letters to write. Places to go.
Just around the corner! Most of all thanks P for the words and love from the family. I have so many Vietnamese moms. I am blessed many times over.