We boarded the small aircraft leaving from Vietnam in order to catch our outbound flight to Loches A small island off the Asian coast was a last minute add on to our 21-day intimacy. A highly recommended destination that had only been open to tourism for a few years at that time. She sat down beside me, fastened her seatbelt, then reached into her travel purse below the seat. She glanced over toward me with a silent chuckle as she pulled out one of her guilty pleasures. A term she used to refer to those gossip magazines found at the checkout aisles of most grocery stores. She then placed the latest issue of Star neatly across her lap. On the cover was a flattering picture of “Sawyer” one of the lead actors from our favorite tv show Lost. She looked at me with her usual pre flight expression. A mixture of pre destination travel jitters along with pre boarding flight anxieties. “I still can not believe we are married. Yet it does not feel any different than the first time we met.” I smiled back at her, “Well, we certainly did not follow the traditional path of marriage. Is it supposed to feel different?” I asked. She shifted her head “Good point. I suppose when you are soul mates it feels right no matter which route you take.” I finished adjusting my seat belt and lifted the window shade as we began moving. “You mean soul mates as in mates from a previous life?” I questioned her rhetorically. She smiled from the side of her cheek as she turned open her magazine. “Something like that I suppose.” I stared out the window as the ground below disappeared into a vast image of abstract clouds.” “Did you know he is married to an Asian woman?” She pointed to a picture of the actor and his real-life wife. Although I never paid attention to who was dating who in Hollywood. I most certainly had a new found interest in the Asian culture. “The show is so good. They say it may be the last season.” She informed me. I nodded in agreement with her. Although I was not quite sure of what message the show was trying to convey. I could feel the passion and determination the writers were attempting to express. I leaned my seat back as far as it could go, closed my eyes and thought to myself. If I ever had a story that big, I certainly hoped I could tell it in a way everyone could easily understand.
The following morning, we were awake and ready to go into town well before the dawns first break. The locals began their daily tradition with offering rice to the village monks. Monks of all ages dressed in bright orange robes carried their own plates. Locals provided them with their daily rice requirements for the day. Tourist were told they could write down a question on a small piece of paper and place it on their plate. It was believed the answer would come back to them when the time was right. The last remaining monk was hurrying to catch up with the group. She retrieved a few coins from her travel purse which she required during her money exchange, then handed me a small piece of paper and a pen. She turned toward me saying “You know I always have a soft spot for stragglers.” She then motioned the monk toward her and placed a coin on his plate, then handed me the other coin. The monk gave me a patient smile. I needed little time to scribble a few words down on the paper before handed it to him along with the coin. She gave me a look as if she was slightly amazed. “That was fast. Did you wish to become the worlds greatest screen writer?” I replied with a grin. “Nah. That would be the easy part.” We walked toward the assigned location to meet our tour guide. She continued to ask “What did you write down? I am a curious owl.” I nonchalantly rolled my eyes “I can not tell you or it will not happen. Should it ever really happen I promise I will tell you.” She gave me a slight pout before accepting my answer. “You Promise?” she pleaded. I gracefully replied. “I promise”
Our tour guide led us into a large river canoe. It was the only method of transportation to the other side of the island. He informed us, once we arrived at the end of the river, we would continue our travels through the jungle via elephant. We took the time to enjoy the scenery. There was a certain quietness. A quietness unlike other quietness. An awareness that we had traveled somewhere further than we had ever traveled before. And yet, somehow it was the first time I had the feeling I was closer to home than ever before. The tour guide waited for me to place my camera down before asking. “Did you enjoy meeting our monks today?” I looked over my shoulder, the guide rowing the paddles blissfully back and forth. “Yes, I did. I certainly hope they can answer all those questions” He smiled back at me. “If you follow your heart you will find your answers.” I chuckled to myself as his answer seemed like a Hallmark card. Then I politely replied. “Is that a fact or a promise?” He leaned upright, giving his paddles a firm tug as he gave me a look of utmost confidence. “That my friend. Is a Promise.”