The way children are adored here, the more precious because there is only ever one per family, their little bare bottoms peeking from the split bottom pants, the way they freely urinate in public.
The food, the variety of it, the vegetables, the fish, the eggplant and rice noodles and dumplings and ricericericerice and teateateatea and green beans and meat with all the fat and bones intact and chicken feet and tofu that smells like a sewer and tofu that tastes sweet as sugar, and lotus, and the sauces that transform normal garden produce into something exotic and intensely flavorful, the spice, the little black balls of spice that numb your mouth, and the fruit–mangoes, mangosteen, durian, dragonfruit, pears–sweet, cheap, abundant.
The vibrant vegetation, the way the tree at the end of the road of my apartment complex burst into flower over the weekend without anyone noticing. After the heavy day-long rain this tree had a sunset painted over its fern-like leaves, small red flowers catching the daylight and tossing it this way and that. Under the tree red petals littered the ground and caught in bushes nearby like snow in hair and my, how lovely.
The freedom to travel, the rush of joy at a new city, how they’re all so different and all the same.
The lived-in feeling of public transportation, the relative ease with which I can cross a city–this city, my city–as big as a state.
The way when you meet someone there’s no preamble. Immediately phone numbers are exchanged, immediately someone says to you, “I hope we can be friends,” immediately you are a part of their life.
The way students disobey and sleep during class and ignore your questions and still love you fiercely as one of their own, as someone to be proud of, as a member of their community.