I dug my toes into the soft mud of the Saigon river. I hugged my knees, watching the dinner boats go by. I grabbed my shins under the hem of my olive green capri pants. I could feel that I needed to shave my legs. I wrinkled my nose and wondered if Tom was looking for me. I’d sort of come out here to get away from him. He wanted to talk about our relationship, which if he knew me at all he would know that would make me want to run more.
I stared out at the boats. I’d been here in ’68–75, a kid just out of college, seeing reporting on the Vietnam War as her first adventure into adulthood, sick to death of 18 year old boys hitting on her, thinkgin that she was younger, now I was here on assignment for a magazine, supposed to write a piece, “Finding Vietnam 40 years later.”
A mosquito buzzed at my ear, but left me alone, mosquitos always left me alone, my dad had always said it was because I ate so much sugar. I brushed it away annoyedly. I was also wearing enough sunblock to cover an elephant, but I had always been terrified of getting that sunburn pink seersucker skin that most of the sun drenched hippy women of my childhood had gotten on their forearms and breasts, so I doused myself in expensive cosmetic sunscreen. I touched my face—I know I’m not supposed to—my foundation was melting off. I remembered that from back then, nothing worked in this heat.
I sighed. It was late afternoon and the sky and sunlight were turning a resplendent shade of tangerine streaked with sherbet pink. If I stayed near the hotel for much longer Tom would find me and want to have that annoying conversation about ‘where he stood in the relationship.’ I stood up annoyedly and grabbed my Teaks from where I’d left them at the edge of the river mud—$175 for a pair of ballet flats, I was not going to get them covered in river mud. I picked them up and headed off towards Tu Do street in search of a cup of Vietnamese coffee and to argue with the cafe ladies about how much condensed milk to put in it.