A New Devotion

And finally there was Betsy. I met Betsy on a black, misty Hanoi night. The bus had ejected me onto a wet curb at 3:00AM, so I wandered the oddly quiet streets until my homestay opened. A million and more sputtering motorbikes would crisscross those streets in the following hours, but at three AM they were mine and mine alone.

I waited and watched the early morning joggers take their laps around the lake. I waited and listened to the clatter of the shops opening up, lifting their metal curtain shutters. I waited and inhaled the balmy, dawn stench of Hanoi as she stirred awake.  I waited happily, accustomed to the pace of limbo between one day and the next.

Then I meandered into the rabbit warren of old-town to check in.
There I met Betsy. Betsy was strikingly bald. It was impossible to notice anything else about her at first glance. But secondly I noticed she had two perfectly stenciled turquoise eyebrows. And in spite of my sleep-deprived limited awareness, I smiled in admiration of the style.

Betsy, a self described city mouse, personified contrast. She barely clocked in at 50 kilos, but wore heavy, black, military-style, buckle-up boots. She paired that brutal footwear with a delicate white parasol. Betsy, with an aptly unobtrusive mien, was forced to stand out all her life because of her alopecia.

From birth she was destined to be an outsider. Strange and quirky were her fated qualities. The fringe was her arranged home. She could do nothing besides stylize the role as one paints the walls of her home. She only ever had two choices.

She could let the societal scrutiny crush her, turn her cynical and mistrusting, make her bitter and hostile. Or she could develop a healthy resistance to it; rise above it. She could let her unique qualities grow into a defining eccentricity. She could bloom into an individual.

And I think I met her after she’d gone through her ‘crushed’ period. The efflux of her acceptance spilled into gratitude. And if that be the case, I’m thankful, and glad for her.  However she arrived at her peace, she had gotten there.

I immediately liked Betsy as I like all people who live full, enriched lives in spite of nature’s twists. If mother nature is not too cruel these people can rise up stronger for their differences. They can thrive by embracing their intrinsically granted uniqueness. And I fully celebrate the differentness of any such soul I meet who still flounders insecurely.

In truth, I hold far more pity for those who are irreversibly deformed by society. The poor lot who hold ingrained prejudices inherited from their station, not their genetics. Those who exalt or shrug off their indecencies.  For their’s is a more insidious, maddening, and baneful twist of character.

Betsy is most significant to me because her’s shall be the last terrarium of character I peer into for awhile. Betsy is the last data packet collected in a long examination of humanity. I’m sated for now on the delights of social interaction.

The pendulum of my identity has swung fully to the side of introversion. I’ve gorged heavily on the human experience these past twelve months, and seek now to digest what I’ve learned. I want to solidify the traits I’ve fostered. I want to express the character I’ve built, the insight I’ve harvested.

My motivations have veered so noticeably away from the direction they ardently tugged towards for so long. The novelty of new places, peoples, foods, and cultures seems bland to me now. I feel there is little more for me in the shallow nutriment of brief friendship and romantic love. I live now to create.

Thank you for reading.

-C

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