A sadness lies in the core of every person.
You distract yourself, perhaps, and you believe it is no longer there.
But, still, it is there and it drives you on.
Or a man may feel the sadness; he treasures it; and he calls it solitude.
And, if it troubles him, the place is called loneliness.
But there is another case:
someone comes, knows your sadness and shares it
and you have a companion.
I arrived in Hanoi very early Saturday and walked around.
Dazed. In the rain. Waiting for the coffee shops to open.
On the train I had shared a sleeper closet
with three red-eyed men who smacked their noodles
and did not acknowledge me as a fourth.
But then the men were gone. I sat cross-legged on my bed and chatted with an Austrian couple who’d joined me. They needed to talk and I needed to listen. They laughed. They interrupted each other. A few months into their trip the guy had become inexplicably hysterical on a Thai minibus. Someone stole “something valuable” from his bag, he said. But what could be so valuable? And then she grew hysterical too. Was she happy? Or angry? Yes, and with such force that she convinced the driver to turn back the bus. They returned and confronted the stationmaster who’d “guarded” their bag. “Ah,” he said, “it seems you left a ring behind. I had no way to contact you but I’m glad you have returned for it. Your ring is safe and my wife will find it for you now.”