San Francisco goes

I have today left in the US. Got my visa letter printed and my passport renewal. Also have more passport and visa photos. It was a lot cheaper getting them online than going to a photo shop and I got 16 of them.

Now it’s time to do what I usually do. Dwell on the times spent on the US after two years of wandering the edge. It’s been nice coming back. I got to see friends and family but I also figured out who does not matter any longer. One of the final things to figure out is what one friend asked me,

When will you come back?

That’s an interesting question. I spent about 5 weeks in various places here. California twice, Texas, Florida and brief stops in New York and Chicago. I got to ride Amtrak as I wanted. Got to see people here. Many nice dinners and beers and thoughts. What I came up with though is that there is nothing here for me. Friends here are kind of frozen in time. Some want to hold forth on Linux and open source. Others about their work and challenges. It was all good. But there was not a kernel of things. A basic link of then and now to sustain me.

I know my wandering full time is done. Vietnam is a year wherever I want to be. Shorter visits within and to other places in the edge or even outside. Things slow down for me. My friends in Vietnam ask more to see me. There is less here to hold me. My friend Bill said it’s because of stuff. We hold on to stuff and stuff begets other stuff. Soon we need bigger containers. We cannot roam the heartlands like opportunistic hunter-gatherers. We are locked in but meanwhile we gather more. Stuff is both material and not though. Some stuff you feel and hold in your heart but can not touch. Other stuff is cursed by its physical nature. More. Bill says. We must have more. To answer him...

Stuff is the bane of existence. It locks you and restrains you and limits you. Real things like end tables and couches. But also elemental things that transcend. Friends, lovers, haters. They all are stuff. They can hold you either willingly or you make feeble attempts to break free. Nothing works though. You are chained by your stuff Bill says.

breaking free of accursed stuff

Yes. One can break free. Life can be less of both but what there is is meaningful. You can decide what has meaning. I did. Some things are not worthy or won’t fit. 20 collared shirts and 4 pair of shoes and dining room tables won’t fit. So be real. Don’t be a minimalist. Be a realist.

The same holds true for elemental things like people and their existential hold on you. Perhaps the stuff they bring is forever harder to break free of. They forge the chains in fires of memory and experience. They hold you back or let you go. In the end you must decide for both. You must choose.

I choose fewer and more valuable and when Bill asked the “when” question there is no answer. It’s unfortunate but so few people rise above here in the US and so many do in Southeast Asia. So I exert my power and become that realist yet again.

I won’t come back I fear. There’s nothing here that still has a hold on me either physically or existentially. I’ve broken those and others. They won’t fit in the 35l travel bag that holds my life.

Free of the chains and the limits I think. Free of people that don’t matter and choosing those that do. Finally like for the last three years free to have fun on the edge. To carry forth with no goal in sight and no challenge to surmount.

The next time I write I’ll be home. Home in Hanoi. In a wild and fun and crazy and sometimes strange place that holds my heart and soul close. And yes. My Vietnamese friends that offer so much but tie me up so little. Hello to them. From Can Tho to Hanoi. I am blessed. Thanks Vietnam.