Saturday, November 14, 2009

Neighborly Love

Today, the most amazing thing happened - I stood outside at 6:30 in the morning and I didn't sweat.

True, once in motion, the beads of perspiration did start to slowly slide down the back of my neck. But sweat is always expected here in Vietnam when you are moving. It was during the stationary state at the vegetarian joint that I found myself in only moments later when I realized that the sweating had ceased.

"Ahh, cooler weatha now in Vietnam!" said the silk lady's husband, taking a seat diagonally across from me at the child-sized table I was hunched over. He flashed me a big toothy grin and soon I found myself engaged in a conversation with this neighbor of mine about his brother in Maryland.

I've been here for almost 12 weeks now. This was the first time that I had a full conversation with this man. My neighbor, who I saw and waved to every day, was speaking to me in clearly comprehensible English. He had never allowed himself to speak in my native tongue that much, let alone at this impressive pace, in the past. I wondered what made him decide to open up to me at last.

As our conversation and my stomach reached full capacity, I grabbed for my bag. My neighbor put up his left hand and waved my wallet away, as if the wad of cash stored inside offended him greatly.

"Today, I invite you breakfast," he said, elaborating on what he meant after reviewing my quizzical expression. "I pay you. You my neighbor. It's okay!"

After I protested, he kept flailing his hand in the direction of my bag, looking as though he wished to make it disappear with the magical might of his invisible wand.

"Really, it's okay. I pay you. Neighbors!" Then he laughed that awesome laugh of his.

I said 'Thank you' about five times before I left.

In Vietnam, when one day, you can find yourself so distant and alone...something like this will happen to you. And you will fall in love with her all over again.

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