Monastery garden in Pleiku, Viet Nam
Before I made my first visit to Vietnam three years ago, I put a message on a Linkedin group for UNC alums, asking for memories of the 60s in Chapel Hill. I had in mind a community-building reminiscence about a challenging and exciting time, shared with the benefit of the wisdom that comes from decades of reflection.
That didn’t work out so well.
“Why did it take you so long to tell me you saw some of my cousins?” Coyote asked. “I’d like to hear about that!”
He was painting the dining room. I was a little surprised. When I left he said he was just going to paint the pantry so that had been fine with me. Now there were drop cloths everywhere.
“Well, yes, I did, as a matter of fact.” I said. “In Death Valley, between Mormon Point and Split Cinder Cone.” Read more
lizard tracks in the sand
I couldn’t see the lizard and then I could. I will never forget the moment. It thrills and haunts me. It wasn’t that I found it by scanning or that I was looking in the wrong place and got redirected. I was looking right at the lizard and I couldn’t see it and then I could. “The scales fell from my eyes,” is the Biblical language and I don’t mind using that language here because the moment did feel mystical. It felt like a gift had been given to me, one that I had longed for without knowing it.
The flight comes in as the sun is going down, catching peaks in gold and highlighting the ring of mineral deposits that finish the shoreline like a ruffled bedskirt. We land and come into a concourse with its early-warning array of slot machines. Then down an escalator facing an enormous picture of Bobby Flay and into the baggage claim area where there are more carousels than I have ever seen in any airport and everything is pounding music and flashing advertisements for shows and spouting cascades of lights and rings and clatters and I think, Come on, Las Vegas. You are being a parody of yourself! Read more