For the last four months my morning routine is to wake up before the sun. And go do makeshift qigong on the beach and float in the ocean before starting my day.
When I moved to the beach, I made a vow to myself I would do this routine everyday, if possible. For when else will I live a block from the gorgeous ocean. And be able to float and start my day in nature with such peace.
For several weeks before lockdown, I started to see my regular elderly Vietnamese exercisers. As we were on the same timeline and routine. Waking up, throwing on a swimsuit and sleep walking towards the ocean in the dark. (I am not going to lie. Sometimes with the heat of the night and essential oils on my face before bed. Yesterday’s mascara would have me looking like I was a raccoon or at an all night rave. But whatevs. It was for them to decide.)
About the second week into this routine, we would then start to wave at each other the moment we got to the beach. Almost as if it was a rite of passage to then step onto the sand in the dark and celebrate another day of life. There was one particular elderly gentleman who would wave at me every morning with the biggest smile across his face – like he hadn’t seen me for years – similar to how I remember Forrest Gump waving to Lt Dan.
It absolutely made my day.
The lockdown occurred. The beach was closed. And I wondered about my new friends and how they were holding up. With language barriers, we had never spoke to each other prior so I actually didn’t even know their names or anything about them.
Vietnam royally kicked the virus’s ass, with zero deaths. After a month we were allowed to go back to the beach. (FYI – Borders are still closed.)
I never saw that man again, and often wondered where he ended up. Did his business close with no tourists anymore with Hoi An being a ghost town, or did he move his family back to the country to his family’s land to try and survive. I thought about his smile every time I stepped onto the sand.
By circumstances, I then got on the routine of a new elderly Vietnamese man’s schedule. Who would be headed to the beach when I was walking back from it. We would usually meet in the street before my turn off, I would say good morning. He would motion swimming with his hands, to ask me if I was swimming. I would act out random qigong and then the most non graceful form of swimming with my arms. We would laugh, he would say something I didn’t understand and we would walk away smiling.
Yesterday, we met on the path to the beach. I smiled wondering if the full moon messed with him as much as it messed with me, and he couldn’t sleep. As he got closer to me he said, “Good Morning!” I smiled with a huge grin and said, “Good Morning!”
He then motioned if I was swimming (I am soaking wet in my swimsuit with wet hair every time by the way). The current had been really strong with the full moon, so I acted out how the current was really powerful and unpredictable, when I was floating. He laughed and then punched me in the arm.
For most people that would have been a shock to get punched in the arm. But for me, I laughed so loud. Flashing instantly back to being a little kid in school. When you would get punched in the arm as a term of endearment. I walked all the way home smiling from ear to ear.
This morning at the beach, I had my eyes closed and was doing qigong but could feel someone watching me. Sometimes I would secretly squint out of the corner of my eye to see the elderly Vietnamese women trying to copy my made up moves.
As I opened my eyes, about 100 feet away was my smiling Forest Gump waving friend! We both waved with both arms as fast as we could and smiled from ear to ear! It felt like Christmas. I closed my eyes and got back into the routine, my heart as filled with joy.
When I was getting out of the ocean, I scanned the beach. And looked for him one more time. He was over by all of the elderly Vietnamese women, all smiling and waving at me.