As a man of a certain vintage, a fair share of “traveling” song lyrics dance in my head.
“I’m leaving on a jet plane; don’t know when I’ll be back again” Peter, Paul and Mary
“I’m sitting in a railway station, got a ticket for my destination…homeward bound”, Simon & Garfunkel.
While given the distance of halfway around the world or so from Vietnam to the West Village in New York I am more likely to be on a jet (EVA Airlines to be precise) although the notion of being “homeward bound” struck me.
I have written about being at home in the world, and it’s true but there is something about travel to a place familiar that excites and inspires.
Returning to New York I tell friends is a way to reconnect with peace, quiet and fresh air. They laugh but on some level it is true, especially in my neighborhood in Lower Manhattan away from the midtown rush. There will be art galleries to visit, independent films to see, street characters of every race, ethnicity and orientation to encounter, and foods from around the world to enjoy.
Most importantly, it is the chance to reconnect with the familiar, with loved ones, not via Skype, magic jack phone-calls or quickie text messages but real time, face time, heart time.
I will miss my daily routine in Saigon; my familiar faces and places but, inshallah, God willing, I return to Vietnam in time for the national holidays, Reunification Day and May Day, neither particularly celebrated in the US.
My bags are packed. I have asked my office mates to take care of my orchid in my absence.
My seasons in Saigon will continue but for the next few weeks from Greenwich Village with the ghosts of the Beat writers like Kerouac and Ginsberg, the echoes of Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, and the smells of Johns and Famous Rays Original Pizzeria wafting through my keyboard. Being away from Vietnam will give me added perspective just like being away from America gives me new lenses to see my country of birth.
And I write this from Taipei, a place I first visited as a college sophomore a lifetime ago, but that will be the subject of another blog.