Pam missed her flight last night.
We began the evening with a nice, leisurely dinner on Stir Fry Street Nguyen Canh Chan (as opposed to Stir Fry Street Shaoxing, China) with Thuy and Thanh, who insisted that I go to a concert with them out by the airport. Perfect, where Pam was heading anyway (heading there completely unaware that her flight left during our leisurely dinner).
So T, T and I get out at the concert venue, say our goodbyes to Pam and send her on her way. (The concert is a part of tomorrow's Blog Game, so you'll hear more about it then.)
Anyway, when I get home and open the gates to the castle a few hours later, I am quite surprised to see K sitting at the table with Pam, looking up flight information. Pam did what I have done so many times (but fortunately not with a flight - yet), she read military time incorrectly (20:30 -which is 8:30 pm, but Pam looked at it as 10:30) and arrived at the airport at 8:30, which she thought was two hours early. She was leaving this side of the planet after eight months, planning to meet her mom in Berlin in the morning.
She handled everything relatively well- better than I would have, for sure.
So that story will help you understand what happens next.
This morning, Nam asks, "Pam go home?"
I should have just said yes. But I said no, she missed her plane...I thought he might see her in the hood and be confused. So of course we must grab a student translator at school and Mom Nam's concern for his charge is reflected all over his expressive face.
When he picks me up at the gym after school today, he is quite agitated. Nam has been acting so strangely lately. I mean Nam is a quirky person, period, but the past few weeks have been...strange.
He's been looking at me with really confused, sad eyes. He has been bringing me different breakfast treats, some of which he retrieves from all the way across town: a different form of rice cakes, a pork and shrimp-filled muffin, and more sticky rice in all colors of the rainbow. I haven’t really known what to do about it.
So we get home today and he tells me he is going to get Minh. He has a lot on his mind and he needs family to translate. He comes back minutes later with his poor nephew. I invite them in and Nam kind of loses it. He collapses on the carpet and makes a low groaning noise.
"Is he OK?" I ask Minh.
"My uncle ask Pam if she join us to celebrate my dead grandfather today. She said "no." He want to know why Pam don't come."
I get some clarification on this from Minh. Nam's family had a lunch in honor of his deceased father at his mother's house, and he must have come by to fetch Pam. I knew Pam would be gone when I got home because she had sent an email telling me she got a flight out at 6:30. See, I should have told Nam that Pam "go home."
I explain to Minh that Pam needed to fly out, and that I'm sure she was sad that she couldn't join their family in the ceremony, and that it was very kind of them to ask her.
Minh tells Nam this, but he remains on the floor. He lets out another moan. It occurs to me that perhaps Nam did some drinking at the lunch ceremony.
Minh looks at me. "My uncle. He sad. You go in June. He see you no more."
So this is it.
This is why quirky Nam has been acting strangely.
So I haven't told many people this, but a few weeks ago I signed another one year contract at AIS. The planets kind of aligned for me, and I signed. So did K, and many others, and T is still deciding.
Anyway, in this moment, with my driver moaning in agony on my floor, I'm conflicted over whether I should tell Minh this news. It's a little complicated.
But, of course, I must. I tell Minh I am coming back for another year. Minh looks surprised. He tells Nam. Nam looks shocked. Nam says something like, "Really?"
When I nod "yes," The Cowboy leaps up and looks straight at me. He puts out a formal hand for a shake. When I offer my hand, he grabs it and squeezes it so hard that now I must let out a scream.
"Nam! Stop! That hurts!"
He just nods and says, "Cowboy."
So I figure that this is as good a place as any to put in Sue's picture of The Cowboy, the one I forgot to get from her and which she sent to me a few weeks ago.
He looks just like the Marlboro Man, doesn't he?