I will be returning to my home in Seattle, Washington, USA on the 15th of June. I want to thank you for all of the kindness you have shown to me over these past two years - and for all of the good food. Living in the Nguyen Canh Chan neighborhood has been a highlight for me.
I wish you lots of luck and happiness in your life!
This is the note I had Lisa (remember the student from last year who helped me with my Nam problems?) translate for me to hand out to the vendors I have grown to love over these past two years. I personalized a few of them - one to the rice cake ladies, telling them their cakes were my favorite meal in Saigon - and one to the spring roll lady, telling her how much I love her rolls. Katherine gets a kick out of Spring Roll Lady because whenever she runs into me in the market, she talks to me as if I can understand every word she says.
The others, I just photocopied them and handed them out this morning. I didn't want to leave it to the last minute, and I definitely did not want to leave with no word of goodbye.
A thought I had right before doing my rounds this morning (there are twenty two vendors on my list - I did about twelve this morning), I considered that some of them may not be able to read. I was right. Rice With Mung Bean Lady had her neighbor read it to her, and Banh Cuon Lady set the note aside without reading it. She did say "Thank you" though, so I think she understands. Spring Roll lady grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly, towel lady made the motion of tears streaming down her face (while laughing) and Garlic Lady kept asking when I would return. Banana Lady knows English quite well - she is so gracious and kind...she said she knew she would see me in the market again.
Rice Cake Lady will get her note on Sunday, when Katherine and I have our last cakes together. K leaves Sunday afternoon, and T, T and I will go to the airport with her. Tarn leaves today and I said goodbye to Alice last weekend because she left for Bangkok to begin year two on her master's, and Steven and Sharon fly out midnight on Tuesday, just like me. Last night, after the graduation ceremony, ten of us went to a nice, quiet restaurant and dined mightily. It was as if I hand-picked all of my favorite people to be there at this goodbye dinner, but really it just happened. It was really nice. I will include this picture even though it includes only half of me...
As for T and T... Thuy cries easily. She is openly emotional and has scrunched up her face with tears a few times in the past few weeks, especially the night that Tarn took us all out for seafood. Thanh, however, stays pretty stoic. This morning, however, I brought them flowers from the ceremony and Thanh did not greet me with her usual lightness of being. She looked at the flowers and went inside the house for a long time. When I went to check on her, she was coming down from the loft wearing sunglasses. You don't have to guess what my response to that was...
I still have the feeling that I have been living in a surreal Disney neighborhood, a kind of Old Saigon Street of Dreams designed especially for me.
These past two years seem as if they were designed especially for me.