At Which Speed of Life Must I Live to Understand “Five Centimeters Per Second”?

By Nhi

Four days ago, I met up with a high school friend whose passion for books converged with mine. We sat at a corner of a pavement cafe, watching streams of traffic flowing while sipping our drinks. My friend suddenly took out two novels that she wanted to give me as presents.

“Choose one!” she said.

Five centimeter per second novel! How do you know that I have always been wanting to read this?” I exclaimed in disbelief.

“You like it? I have never read this book, so I was a little anxious about giving it to you,” my friend said.

“Yes, I do. I watched the anime two years ago and it is one of my favorites,” I replied.

***

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Hello home!

By Nhi

Maybe, the easiest way to take a good guess at the economic characteristics and regional weathers of a country or city is to look at the land from the window of a plane. Different from the Big Apple that brands itself with impressive skyscrapers, Hanoi is painted by a dark green color threaded with winding rivers, red-roofed houses and occasionally tall buildings.

Credit: archives.nyphil.org

I turned off the television screen, drummed fingers on my thighs and breathed deeply to calm down the heart that was violently beating against my chest. My thoughts were jumping on each other like babies playing with pillows while I tried to draft a novel inside my head. Dramatic, I supposed. But only at these moments did I realize the importance of being away from somewhere to come closer to the wish of understanding it. I was lucky enough to leave Hanoi for the United States when I was seventeen.

I was such a fortunate kid to realize the importance of home.
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Along the Long Way

By Nhi

I am not on the plane often. The last time was almost three years ago when I travelled with relatives. The flight was exhausting, lasting for more than fifteen hours. I remembered the last minutes when I was overwhelmed with the desperate need to get away from the closed space that carried too many lives. My skin and lip turned dry while breathing became difficult. I told myself, “I have been fooled for my whole life. The plane just looks nice, liberating and symbolically ideal from the outside. The inside is like prison.”

This time, I am also on a plane for fifteen hours straight but there are two different things. I am traveling by myself and I have photography and writing as companions.

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