How We Love

One quote on love that’s stayed with me is by the late Christopher Hitchens: “To be the father of growing daughters is to understand ... to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else's body.” The truth is I’ve been trying to write about Vietnam for days, and each time I am stopped by a force that renders me a little speechless. At the risk of sounding sentimental, I am entirely startled by love. The past two months at Hyper Island has made a warrior woman out of me, even less prune to hugs, more drawn to nights alone in the theatre, desexualized, intensely resolute on something: anything… Then came Vietnam, who was humid, soft, lush, chaotic, and everything I no longer was. Then came my lover, who was strong, tough, smart, and with him I morphed into a woman who leaned and sighed and savored.

At first this surrendering of power feels unfair. After all, haven’t I worked hard being whatever it is that I am? I don’t care to haggle anymore. I could stay there and count his white hairs. To this he said, “you don’t have to be so hard all the time.” His friend, the last one we met on the last day, added, “you’re clearly an independent woman, and he protects you while giving you room to breathe.”

It’s hard being a woman who has this awareness - the awareness that love calls for the surrendering of power. If I could surrender anything, it might be the awareness part, the part that spirals into measurement of actions, an analysis of what is biological and instinctual. Design teaches us to be more mindful and more aware, but in my lover I find the only time when my mind is in the right heart-space, completely befuddled, a beautiful fool!

So instead of rationality and beautiful type, I want to celebrate nonsensical, emotional, chaotic, heavy, and soft moments. There were many of them in Vietnam. There was walking through an unkept but gorgeous Imperial City with him and Nam, talking about Babe Pig in the City and all the years that have past. There was watching the sunset and feeling the yoke roll over your body. There was meeting the infamous Nowathip, who regaled you with stories and films and music in a way of talking to you that made sense of everything. There was walking back from the restaurant, dying a little, then back to the hotel and waiting for Eclipse (who is a man), fading. There was the groom, who of course started to cry on mentioning his parents. There was the scooter ride across the most Orientalist landscape you can imagine. Then there was of course, him, who beyond anything was a force to be wholly crippled by.