Just when I am starting to love Hanoi do I realize that I am leaving the city ten days from now. I tried not to be overly sentimental, and so I did the things I routinely do – cycle around with my red bike, do my afternoon jog, write, and go to the gym in Thai Ha. I think that by doing these I am keeping myself from thinking about sadness; keeping myself from thinking the good, bad, happy and sad things I have been through in this city; keeping myself from being too attached to things that I’ve learned to live with for the past months.
I am living in Hanoi not as a tourist staying in a hotel for a week and bringing around with me my camera taking pictures of cultural oddities I will never encounter in my country. Instead, I am living the life of an ordinary Vietnamese. I never took tourist buses that would keep me from the dust and grimes of the city roads instead I fought my way every time I ride my bike; I never took a cyclo and paid 10 dollars to see the old section of the city, instead I walked and thinned my white shoes to meet a Vietnamese in Tran Hung Dao and talk to him in a language he is more expressive.
This afternoon, I went to an Adidas shop along Nguyen Luong Bang to buy another traveling bag for my trip to Ho Chi Minh next week. And it dawned on me that I am indeed really leaving soon. How hackneyed the expression “time is too fast”. But it is indeed too fast. I reread my entries in this blog as well as the ones I wrote in my private journal and came to a conclusion that my fears during those times were a bit petty. Probably I’ll look at all my fears now in the same manner I view the fears I had before.
I am not saying I have gone mature, what I know is that I’ve become a man more experienced every time I travel.
I’m going home soon. It scares me.
Right after I arrived in my room after a grueling exam last Friday, I felt that everything in my room – ballpoint pens, my white bath towel, Columbia windbreaker, a doll made of rice hulls Chi Le gave to me, my laptop, everything – seemed to remind me of cold nights, humid nights, boring nights, tiring nights, happy nights, sad nights, nights I’m in love that I spent in this country.
I’m avoiding this trap most travelers fall into, loving so much something that letting go will be impossible. The way I see life is also similar to this, to cherish something but keep some distance, enough to make the disengagement less difficult.
I’ve been doing this all my life. It will not be hard this time.