The Hour of Water

Superstition Review

The Hour of Water

How do we behave in unfamiliar environments? When do we know how to trust someone? How do strangers become friends?

These are some of the questions I asked myself when I started writing “Seven Is the Hour of Water,” an essay that Superstition Review published last month.

My husband and I were in Vietnam when the pandemic started in March 2020 and we decided to stay. We had no home and no job to return to, and the outbreak of the virus in our home countries (the US and the Netherlands) was bad. We didn’t know if and how COVID-19 would spread in Vietnam, but we took our chances. In hindsight, we made the right call.

In the hotel in which we quarantined, we became friends with a special person: Tru Lang. He was the chef and owner of the hotel restaurant MÙA, an excellent place you should visit when you get the chance. One morning he asked me a question that I couldn’t answer to my satisfaction. “Let me work on it,” I said. A promise to a friend is a challenge worth taking.

My essay “Seven Is the Hour of Water” is my delayed response to my friend.

We are three readers, three curious food lovers, three music enthusiasts. Between courses of garlic-fried maggots, apocalypse curry (which you named after the pandemic), and lotus-seed loaded fermented rice, we discuss sci-fi trilogies and listen to Frank Ocean. We are travelers who can work anywhere and consider home a changing concept, a feeling instead of a place. Although none of us care about fashion, we all end up hiring the same kind tailor for a set of custom-made linen clothes.

Is that how we become friends, through what we share?

But true connections don’t come cheap. The process must be more challenging.

The three of us, we are two men and one woman. Two eager customers and one top-notch chef. Two Americans and one European. Two white people and one person of Chinese-Vietnamese descent. Two people striving for authenticity and one performer who likes to dispel the world’s worries with jokes.

From “Seven Is the Hour of Water

Thank you, editors, for publishing my work. Please read the full essay on the Superstition Review website.

Curious to read more? In March, Matter Press published my flash essay on Sicily, grief, and marzipan, and you can find links to more of my published work on my short prose page.

The Hour of Water
The view from our quarantine hotel.
(I told you we made the right call.)