I caught Steven on yahoo chat last night, and we talked about our one connecting factor: the country of Vietnam, and then of course the subject shifted to the differences with Western culture. One thing that Steven said which rang true for me was that in Vietnam, his experience was “friendship above all else,” and not the materialism and commercialism that overwhelms our lives here in the west. It’s like what the Vietnamese guy I met in Columbus said to me: that people don’t go out here, they just work, eat, sleep, and then do it all over. Steven also mentioned something about just building bridges and watching things grow, which is something else that seems to be lacking from life here.
It seems like ages ago, but it was less than three years ago actually, when Steven and I used to sit on his balcony in Long Xuyen at night and drink a few beers, watch the insects fly around the security light, smoke too many cigarettes, and “process.” I stole the term from Dan Wessner who used it when he brought groups of American students to Vietnam and would take time with them to talk about their feelings and experiences in a new country and culture. Well, Steven and I had our own processing to do, and we hadn’t yet been there for a year, and we spent many a night processing on his balcony, which happened to be the largest in the guesthouse. I guess now we still process, we’re just on other sides of the world and not on a balcony together in the evening.