Lately I think I’ve looked back for whatever reason. Sitting in the park yesterday with my Kindle, I started writing a thing for myself on memories returned to. It is a curious thing returning to those dusty shelves. Most often it is a scene somewhere in Vietnam. I don’t know why but when I cast back the memory machine, it is most often Vietnam that returns. Perhaps it is places like this.
This Hanoi thing which always takes me to the moments left behind. Since I have the blog back I get to vicariously relive it all twice. Once in a private journal I keep on things similar and once here. So let me cast the net back to my Vietnam. My precious Edge. A time ago. A memory…
I admit to considering sometimes what of value I have for people. I have nothing. No cars, homes, property. Not much in the way of money. There’s not a lot of material gain with me. What I do have others cannot have though are the priceless memories and moments and experiences. That life, those times, that Vietnam which I think is frozen in time in the then machine. Walking one day around West Lake to Mystic Cafe I would catch the glimpse of a sun striking its final deal. It wanted us all to see that even with all the grandeur, the earth would do the thing and we would have that glorious time of dusk. When the reds were redder and the yellows seemed to glow with a warmth like precious gems. I would hear voices talking and laughing. Vietnamese voices most often. The coffee shop owner would smile as he saw me.
You see there was one shop for coffee in the mornings and then the next door shop for cold Hanoi beer at night. Sitting there never changed. Different color tables and chairs for each place. In the mornings, it was a ritual endeavor. Hanoi ca phe sua da and the lake with the mist sometimes bouncing strange designs. In the evening… Well the evening carried a quality almost surreal for me. I could sit so still and feel that dusk carry me over. Show me there was nothing I needed, nothing needing done, no places left to go. Home was around the corner and down the street. A little room on the third floor in a small apartment run by V. Sometimes I would buy more beer and sit outside and listen at night after dusk. The table and chairs gave a view of this little piece of life. The sounds of it all. Hanoi horns and cars and bicycle vendors. The woman offering mangos. She always stopped at my door. I can hear that bicycle squealing to a stop and her lilting voice,
Xin Chao Uncle Mike. Mango?
Sometimes evenings I would get one and give her more money. She smiled and waved and her bike rattled away.
These indulgences and little fantasies that were truths happened most every day for me. Sometimes though I would venture farther and walk to the old quarter. To a lake called Hoan Kiem Lake. There to sit around the lake with a coffee or tea and feel the different spirits calling me. Then the vision would cloud over and the memories falter. I could not remember the time I went to the old quarter and took this photo.
All I know in me is traveling these lost paths seem to be the synapses of life firing and telling me not to forget what once was. Sometimes tempted to make it mine again but I also know it is a fool’s errand to want something that once was. No one can ever have it back and to seek it out means all I have now would suffer and break. But we are made of such mortal ken that we often seek out a thing we know in our hearts and souls would not be best or that we would not love.
Now I have this wonderful life and it provides so many things. But the one thing I do have I could never give up to wander again moments and memories that would never be the same.
And the final moment in this post is realizing we all cast our nets backwards at times. When perhaps times seem difficult or we face choices or we just want relief. Those times back then. For me it was always Vietnam but it could be Georgetown or Taipei or Tokyo or Chennai India. Or even Singapore. The actual place never mattered but for some reason when I do become the fisherman of the past, the net sinks down to Hanoi Vietnam.
Because I love it so and I miss it sometimes. But I do not want it back because having something that once was never does work now.