It is two weeks and two days since I walked through my own door, the door to my home, after being away also for two weeks. Four weeks, then, a month since my last trip to Vietnam, where everywhere around me there are doors.
Bellhops dressed in long satin traditional robes and hats who open the glass doors to my hotel lobby the night I arrive from the airport. I come sweeping in, even dog-tired after more than 24 hours in transit, and the moment I enter that grand foyer with a big marble table in the center and on the center of that table an oversized floral arrangement, I feel exhilarated. It’s usually 11:00 pm, and all I can think of is laying my body flat on a bed, but still, I have that Mary-Tyler-Moore-in-the-big-city moment, a feeling of being in the center of the action, in a global hot spot, where people come and go at all hours of the day and night, people from every country to this epicenter of the world.
The doors to my own home are parochial by comparison, set in the past, of a certain era, a place, a quiet time. They are large, two entry-way doors across from one another in the foyer of my home. Made of plain wood, birch perhaps, double Dutch doors, one set facing the front of the house, the other set the back courtyard. These doors also stand out. When I walk through them I notice the way they require an extra nudge to open them. They are heavy and sticky, substantial doors reminding me that this is the place where I, too, am destined to pass long years of my life.
Have I always been this comfortable in two places? I close my eyes and see myself striding, yes, not merely walking but striding in and out of those glass doors in District One, the first and oldest and most vibrant district of Saigon. It’s not that I don’t feel alone there, but rather in my solitude I feel strong and independent, like I know the place, and I almost wrote, like I own the place.
The hotel lobby is like any other hotel lobby, imposing and luxurious, with a certain lighting and an aura of hospitality that makes the traveler feel cushioned. Cushioned from the inconveniences of being away from the familiar, a toaster and a green tea kettle, butter pecan in the freezer. Cushioned from the thousands of miles of space and time from those we love.
There is a Gucci shop where young Vietnamese men and women dressed in black stand talking, store employees so elegant and hip they intimidate. I pass by their doors without staring and out I walk into the humid street where cafes and restaurants sit next to shops selling men’s suits and silk scarves and children’s dresses.
I walk through the door of the French bakery and buy an almond tart on my last night of this trip, and I tuck it into my purse as I consider whether to venture into a Spanish bodega where young expats eat tapas and drink red wine from goblets or get my last fix of Vietnamese food from Lemongrass, one of my favorite local spots. Either way I will sit alone, eat alone, consider solely how this trip has been and how it has revealed a few more mysteries.
And just in the moment when I am at the point where the people around me seem too jolly, where they only seem to appear in pairs and threes and fours, parents with children in contrast to me alone, I get to walk out of the glass doors held open by the man in robes and into a waiting taxi. Through the sliding doors of the airport and the gates and the portals and the passageways I go, flying through the day and night, back in time, back to the place where heavy doors wait, welcoming me to the other familiar.
-Related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — DOOR