I just returned to Saigon from my annual pilgrimage to the USA. Stepping off the plane, I noticed the unique aroma of Saigon -- tropical moisture, wood fires and motorbike exhaust. "Ah, it's good to be home."
I had similar experiences when I stepped off the plane in San Francisco and Vermont. San Francisco smelled of dry, dusty Eucalyptus trees. Vermont was the moist soil and cool leaves of a northern temperate forest. Washington was the lush fragrance of the summertime flowering species of the mid-Atlantic.
I read somewhere that sense of smell is closely associated with memory. That's why certain smells always bring a flood of memories and emotions, as they did in each time I stepped off the plane during my USA holiday. It's funny -- you never realize that certain places have their own unique aroma signatures because you get used to it.
My 3 week holiday was awesome. Stops included:
- San Francisco. Went to the wedding of my good friends Marcie and Mike. I was honored to deliver a short speech at the rehearsal dinner bang tiếng việt/in Vietnamese. Marcie's family got a big kick out of it too. It was also great to see a bunch of the old Yahoo peeps including Spencer, Lisa, Zerlina, Brookie, Larissa and Larry.
- Naples, Florida. Visited my dad and his wife Marty. My sister was there too. Lots of hanging by the pool and playing tennis. Good times.
- Burlington, Vermont. My hometown and where my mom and sister still live. I went to my 20 year high school reunion! Wowie. 1988 was a long time ago. Carol, Jennifer et al did an outstanding job organizing, complete with 1988 yearbook photos and an animated video collage of old and new photos of people in our class. I also attended the 9th annual Gathering of Men -- a weekend with high school buddies dedicated to beer, poker, grilled meats and paintball (nothing is better than shooting your buddies in the back and leaving a black and blue welt the size of a silver dollar). Lastly, there was a LOT of eating. Mom cooked all my favorite meals including lasagna, meatloaf and chicken. Took a side trip to Montreal too. I was gonna swing up there, but the venue was too far.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One night stop to visit my old friend Sue and her tea bar, Tbar.
- Baltimore, Maryland. Another one night stop to visit my old college buddy Colin, his wife Magan and their very chill, very cute 10 month old boy Jonah. He was the most chill baby I've ever met. Colin and I got some good Mexican (hard to find in Vietnam) and then went to a cool Scotch bar in Baltimore.
- Washington, DC. Last stop on the tour. Visited old college buddy Hank as well as dinner/visits with Darden peeps Katie, Judy, Heidi, Rick, Cecil, Jimbo and his wife Barbara. Jimbo's story about an encounter with ex-DC mayor Marion Barry was hysterical. Everybody is doing great.