Auld Lang Syne

As I was clearing out the garage this weekend, I came across three bottles of wine I hadn’t realized was there. Fortunately, they were still quite drinkable (our garage isn’t as constantly cool as our basement.)

I also came some greeting cards and postcards I received in my college/early working years. Some of the people with whom I was close and hung out with from that era, I have lost touch with them, or our relationship has become less close due to distance. Some folks – I had completely forgotten about their existence!

Does anyone send postcards anymore? Yet while I recycled all the Christmas cards with their banal messages, I kept the postcards. I guess it’s the travel-holic in me. I always like to know where people go.

In that pile were two postcards, both from Dave/David. One was sent from Japan, the other from Thailand.Neither of them had signed their last names. And interestingly enough the one from Thailand had some Thai written on it, which David wrote he was learning.

Seeing handwriting today makes me feel like I’m looking at a quaint museum artifact. We may write emails and text each other today as much we wrote letters back them, but in the impersonal pixels of type, the individual stamp from forming letters by hand is lost. That loss is a little sad. And I guess no one makes “Your handwriting is so illegible, you should have been a doctor” jokes anymore.

I used to instantly identifying notes from different people by their handwriting, even before I looked at the names of the sender. You can get a sense of what people’s personalities are like from their handwriting.

I looked at the handwriting, which was a little different between the two postcards. But I could only remember one David (‘Loutz’) amongst my acquaintance from those days with whom I’m still in contact. I couldn’t imagine why Loutz would have been learning Thai.

I took a snapshot of each postcard and emailed it to Loutz. “Did you send me these? I only knew one Dave back then.”

photo 2 (6)

“What, there are lots of Dave’s born in the 1960s/early 70s one of the most popular names…where have you been! :)”

Loutz had indeed sent the one from Japan. Loutz had also been to Thailand also, but didn’t remember learning Thai.

How awful! I could not remember knowing another David . . .

Then I suddenly realized who the second David was. It was the French guy. He was at Cal as a foreign student, but was about to go work in Rayong, Thailand for a year or two, in lieu of participating in the French military draft, or something like that. Like Loutz, he had also lived in I-House. I guess he had sent me the postcard after he arrived in Thailand

I got to know David the French guy when he contacted the Thai students club, to see if anyone was interested in doing a French-Thai conversation exchange. He wanted to learn some Thai before he arrived in Thailand.

So we would meet weekly at the café on the corner of Oxford and Center. He learnt some Thai, and I brushed up on my French, even though I didn’t have any immediately use for it. It was a lot of fun talking about different cultures and people. It’s one of those everyone should try it at least once during their college years. And I guess it slightly made up for the fact that I never did study abroad stint, which I so regret now.

It was though these café meetings that I acquired the very European taste of drinking fizzy mineral water. (Calistoga was still being bottled.) I didn’t want to drink coffee at night.

Unfortunately, I still can’t remember David the French guy’s last name, although I remember that the name of his street in his hometown in Brittany was named after a pirate: Surcouf. It was such a funny detail that it has stuck in my head. I wonder what he’s doing now. (I mean David. The pirate is long dead.)

That was the year that I had different people read poetry in their native language for the lagniappe compilation. David read a short French fable/poem about the fox who tricked the crow into dropping the cheese. I got Truc to read a Vietnamese lullaby. My mom read 黃鶴樓送孟浩然之廣陵 by Li Bai. Prinya Pinying read a Thai poem, Carlos Castellanos read something by Pablo Neruda. And maybe Nancy Ding read an Akiko Yosano tanka? This was when the lagniappes were still in cassette tape form, so they may all be lost now.

Maybe one copy of the tape will turn up as a flashback surprise, like the three bottles of wine and postcards I excavated from the garage.