Monday, June 05, 2006

Vietnam and back, Hue and Saigon, caphe and vegetarian meals (why does fake meat taste better than real meat?), cemetery skipping, family seeing, laughing in elevators, talking Milan Kundera and Buddhism over dinner, my mom’s “they’re goose liver, we’re chopped liver” line, looking for an orphanage lost in a jungle, climbing down a mountain while telling children’s stories, watching the sky undress herself and her clothes turning into motorcycle headlights all around us, “it’s like they’re stars looking for some grounding,” smoking cheap cigarettes, praying, dreaming about turning into a tree, my grand cousin tells me love stories as another sings “one day my prince will come,” I speak in French with all of them, except the kids my age, we talk through cell phone videos (he plays me a breakdancing video), I fall in love with a fried pancake in Hue so I throw a chair onto a table and draw our faces onto the ceiling (the food is that good,) one day we’ll all come back, we’ll build homes too, homes all over the place.

A pair of photos, for now:

Marie-Paule asked me if I wanted to go with her to find her grandfather’s grave, I said sure, and we cross by foot a river, a train track, a sea of bicycles/motorcycles and rusted toppled gate into a cemetery. There are a dozen or so kids playing soccer between the tombstones. Some of them eye us curiously. She finds her grandfather’s grave, and is totally upset to see it overrun by weeds and snails. I help her clean it up. Two kids come by and offer us a brush. They halt the soccer game to watch us clean the grave. On our way back, we wonder if the kids are talking about us. “Of course,” Marie-Paule says. And we stop for cigarettes.

The fam, at our family home in Hue. Aunts and uncles and cousins from all over the world came out to Vietnam that week. The woman on the left is Bac Ma, my godmother in Paris, the one in the middle is Bac Ang, my mom’s oldest sister, from Torrance, and the woman with the back turned to us is Bac Mi, the cool aunt in New York. They’re checking out flying plants, and will soon tell us good stories.