Our dear friends urged us to take the weekend away while they kept our kids and even pointed us towards Hoi Ann. The beach is one of the best I have ever been on. The quality of the sand, medicinal. The intermittent appearance of neurotic ghost crabs outsmarting gulls as they run to the waterline then scurry back to their holes warms my soul. The South China Sea is azure and the many fishing junks upon define a pace of living that bans cardboard coffee cups and trades them for coconuts that with the tap of a machete make just enough of a notch to peak a straw through. The junks faithfully drag the sea with their rudimentary upside down bamboo volleyball nets. They put you on notice that daylight is the time to perform your tending tasks. An occasional fully cotton clad Vietnamese carries fruit by the waters edge balancing their baskets with a pole heaved over their shoulder. Their face is buried under their non la conical hat. A gaggle of matching non las are up the hill. The grassy patches they occupy enjoy custom haircuts from the squatting brigade. Our room feels in the center of this setting and has an invisible force that begins in a private courtyard with outdoor shower then flows past the bath, the bed and out the sliding doors that spill onto the beach. Every ounce of energy built into the architecture and existing structures funnel you to the beach, to the sea.
But before we can succumb to the tidal force we have some business of our own to tend to. One never fully realizes how far they have travelled unless they look back and take stock. We are half way into our family trip- we had such high hopes for it to deepen our relationships, repair disconnects and awaken us where needed from sleep. Are we accomplishing our goals? Separate yet connected to this question is that we have decided to close the final chapter on our book Two-Years of Living Apart That Turned Into Six. This means there will be some major life changes, and tending to goodbyes. Setting a course for what's next is now layered upon our trip.
Transformations always cost. We have faithfully paid in to annuities- are they ready for harvest? If not now, when? Wisdom says the back half of any journey has the potential to be the richest. We have passed the halfway mark on this World Tour. Are we into the sweet spot? If not, what do we shift to find it? Six years apart- a gamble for gain. Did we beat the odds and realize it? You have to comb through where you have been and look amongst the rubble to collect the fruit, the riches. Here in Hoi Ann I am afraid to stop and look. I am afraid that seedlings needing a caring hand to weed and make room for life growth producing sun and water didn't get what they needed with the promise of tomorrow choking out the opportunity of today. I am afraid to look in the vineyard for fear there has been damage by exposure to the elements and I will find they have forgotten how to produce fruit as energy has long been redirected to root survival. Even if there is fruit to be found, will it pale by comparison to the rubble? Farming…and gambling…is such a risky business. Whatever is true, it is no good to deny it. Eventually you must look. But know this, if we do find riches, fruit, transformation- they cannot be picked and enjoyed like happened upon on a spring day's walk in the orchard. They need to be pulled from the earth with gravity, gratefulness and a touch of soulful mourning for the price paid. Mourn as we must, we also cannot deny this price paid brought us to this authentic place no money could buy. We have arrived here from our willingness to embrace every goddamn step.
So amongst the many lanterns glowing in the balmy breeze of the quaint town of Hoi Ann and on the perfect beach with our bed in the center of the path of lunar pull we have a marital summit and assess our location.. and begin to set a course. Deliberation reveals there are no waypoints to even inform a start. Terrifying. The only thing we can do is lift up one foot and propel it into the air and see where it lands. Though we do not know where we will go, we do know that this time, it will not be with our heart diced by the lines of latitude and longitude. Logistics can be so convincing, but we will not be fooled. Wherever we go now, we will go together.
Adrift....but together at 16°4'N: 108°13'E.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
By Mary Oliver
Let us begin, dear love, where we left off;
Tie up the broken threads of that old dream;
And go on happy as before; and seem
Lovers again, though all the world may scoff.
Let us forget the graves, which lie between
Our parting and our meeting, and the tears
That rusted out the goldwork of the years;
The frosts that fell upon our gardens green.
Let us forget the cold malicious Fate
Who made our loving hearts her idle toys,
And once more revel in the old sweet joys
Of happy love. Nay, it is not too late!
Forget the deep-ploughed furrows in my brow;
Forget the silver gleaming in my hair;
Look only in my eyes! Oh! darling, there
The old love shone no warmer then than now.
Down in the tender depths of thy dear eyes,
I find the lost sweet memory of my youth,
Bright with the holy radiance of thy truth,
And hallowed with the blue of summer skies.
Tie up the broken threads, and let us go,
Like reunited lovers, hand in hand,
Back, and yet onward, to the sunny land
Of our To Be, which was our Long Ago.
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Let us lay in the lap of love
and let go of all our fears,
the pains, the sorrows that have been with us until now.
When we have dried each other's tears
Let us walk in love, in laughter
in excitement for today.
Let us walk in love, hand in hand
through all that may come, shining our love light as one.
Let us grow in love and let the wonders shape our days and nights.
Let us learn in love to hear each other's call across the waves
and across the room.
Let us be Love
Here, there and Everywhere
With You Love, there is no fear.
By June O'Reilly