One year ago, Melinda and I flew to Hanoi for Tet, the Lunar New Year. One Sunday, in the park near our small hotel, there were many vendors, mostly women, selling toys and souvenirs. This old woman was selling small wooden toys that when you moved your wrist chickens pecked up and down. At first we walked past, but decided to go back and purchase all her toys in the hope that maybe, once all her toys were gone, she could go home for the day. A young man stopped as I was attempting to pantomime what it was I wanted from the woman; I explained to him and he translated to her, although neither one initially understood that I wanted to pay ten times what she was asking for the toys (which, given the nature of the vendor/tourist relationship was already an inflated price). When the young man understood what I intended he smiled broadly and explained to the woman. She looked at me like I wasn’t in full possession of my faculties, but eventually agreed to sell me the toys. Melinda and I took the bags and walked through the park distributing them to small children (with their parent’s approval) until they were gone.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. After a little more than 13 months living in Shanghai, China, we are now back in the United States, housed in a comfortable, two-bedroom apartment in our old Seattle neighborhood. It’s a temporary apartment while we search for more permanent quarters (rents have gone up while we were away!) Thoraxis is acclimating to his new country, but seems confused by carpeting; after spending his entire short life living on marble & wood floors, he thinks a carpet is just a large puppy pee pad. My work continues. But it’s good to be back in the states. James came over this afternoon for lunch, we walked to the Pike Street Market for fresh flowers, I haven’t drank water out of a plastic bottle since Friday, and despite the low clouds and rain I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles.