I like rain. I like to run in the rain, I like to sleep-in in the rain. I like rainy Saturdays and Sundays. But I don’t like when it rains on Monday or Tuesday or any work day. I enjoy the rain, I like listening to the rain drops. Rain can make me so happy and it can make me so lonely.

When I was in my early teens, I like an older boy at school. He didn’t know me, he was a few classes ahead of me. I didn’t know why I liked him and I didn’t know why I couldn’t share my feelings with my friend Phoung.

One afternoon the rain started as we were leaving school, I walked home with my friend and as we turned around the corner of my street, I saw him riding his moped with his friend sitting behind him. I was happy to see his full face even though both had on ponchos covering their heads and school uniforms. But I was sad because I wish I was a few years older and in the same class with him.

The walk home was long because I was wondering what he was doing that night with his friend, were they going to a cafe shop, to dinner, to a movie. My mind wasn’t there when my friend turned down her street and I was left alone to walk down my street.

It started to get dark and all the lights from all the shops and bars and restaurants started to reflex off the wet pavement and sidewalks. I could see the light reflected on the raindrops as it softly fell onto the ground.

Few people had umbrellas over their heads and some, just like me, were getting wet in the misty rain. I started to think what was he doing as I slowly walking home. Was he at home doing homework or at a cafe bar? I walked by several shops and cafe bars and didn’t see any familiar faces. The reflector of the lights on the wetted sidewalk was so colorful and beautiful, I wished I had someone to share the rain with.

After dinner, I had a fever and my mother made me go to bed early with an ice bag for my forehead. Laying in bed I was still listening to the rhythm of the rain as it hit the ceramic roof. As my eyes started heavily closing, the last thing on my mind was the beautiful and colorful but lonely rainy night on my way home from school and me wishing I was the friend sitting behind him on his moped.

Now, more than 40 years later, I saw in a downtown Sacramento restaurant a painting of the rain’s reflection by Stanislav Sidorov and memories of that lonely, raining night in Saigon when I was fourteen years old came flooding back.


Salted Duck Eggs

Growing up in Vietnam we ate duck eggs, salted duck eggs. I don’t remember if we ate chicken eggs or not. If I did, it didn’t leave a lasting memory. But I loved the salted duck eggs. I don’t remember how the salted duck eggs were made, but I remember that at the market, the eggs were covered with black salted charcoal and were always displayed in a big bin. You would never know how big the eggs would be because they were all cover in thick salted charcoal. You can only see the size of the eggs when you clean the charcoal off. As I recall, most of the duck eggs were much bigger than chicken eggs. My mother used to clean the black charcoal from the eggs before she boiled them. The white part of the duck eggs had a strong salty taste and the yellow yolk was firm in texture, but not as salty.

Leo and a chicken egg

Today I went for a run. Somewhere during my run I developed a craving for salted duck eggs with long grain white rice. Sometimes while running I put a whole sea salt rock in my mouth but even that salt rock doesn’t have the same salty taste I remember from salted duck eggs. I haven’t eaten a single salted duck egg since we moved to America but, out of the blue, I developed a craving for salted duck eggs. I wonder if the salted duck eggs I craved during my run would actually taste as good as I remember, or I was just imagining how good and salty they were? If I were to eat one now would I be transported back all teary to my childhood in Saigon or would I be spitting it out while making a disgusted face? I’m now on a mission to find salted duck eggs. I’ll eat them in celebration of my life in the States, 41 years this month.

Leo distracted by another neighborhood kitty.