You Can go home again
Having been back in New York for nearly two weeks I reflect on the similarities and differences between “here” and “there”, both relative terms.
The temperature hit a rare April 90 (or 32 degrees Celsius) in New York, a typical spring day in Saigon.
Everyone is walking or descending into the subway and a motorbike (usually a fashionable Vespa) is seen rarely on the streets of Manhattan.
Street vendors offer fresh fruit (ditto Saigon) and there are noticeably more beggars and homeless visible in New York than last year or in the whole of Vietnam (unless those “there” are hidden from public view).
Traffic is maddening (ditto Saigon) but within an hour outside the city the countryside rises along the river and with it tranquility sans the rice paddies and water buffaloes of Cu Chi.
Television, while mostly in English, isn’t any better although the myriad independent bookstores, street musicians, films, and variety of New York is unequaled, not only in Vietnam but in few places on earth.
Street protests, notably “Occupy Wall Street” hover in my neighborhood but are orderly and largely benign. Baseball season has begun so the New York Yankees –Boston Red Sox rivalry has kicked into gear. Political season has started but few seem to care.
I find bagels for breakfast but drink Vietnamese coffee, strong and dark, on my roof deck, from which I can see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building and the rising phoenix that is the new World Trade Center.
I smile at that view on a picture perfect day and am mindful that the writer, Thomas Wolfe was wrong; you can go home again.