If you ever walk by a plumeria tree, you probably won’t forget the fragrance that fills the air. I secretly searched for them on my travels in the south of Vietnam only to find a handful living in odd places. People no longer have plumeria trees in their yards. I guess they don’t have a need for them anymore. I asked a friend of mine to which she promptly explained. People are slowly cutting them down due to their lack of monetary potentials. I still didn’t really get it. The one my grandparents had never brought them any money, but it stood for years and years before the river swallowed it.
I hear it from everyone. Land value is rising. Farmers are selling their land quickly to cash in on the incline. I don’t blame them. I’d do the same. It’s people like me who have time to search for these sentimental things. People like me who are lucky to not have to worry about the survival of everyday life. Not that I don’t worry, but it’s a different kind affliction. Growing up in another country, I’ve always wondered where life would have taken me if I had stayed. I’m not sure if I’d be sentimental about anything at this point.
To my surprise, I ran into a long row of white plumeria trees on a walk through Nguyen Hue walking street. I spotted their unmistakable dome-shaped silhouettes from afar like giant umbrellas shielding from the sun. Curvy branches intertwined and converged towards the hazy sky. I thought about how strange it was to find them here in the city, where I least expected them to be. Nonetheless, I was happy to see them. As I got closer, the aroma of the plumeria blossoms became more powerful. It was almost like sweetness of honey evaporated and coated every air molecule. I picked up a few flowers from the sidewalk to get a closer look. Their ivory white petals still delicately soft to the touch. A breeze ran through the trees as streetlights came on for the evening. It was the perfect beginning for a night in the city.
I looked around at the fancy buildings recently erected, and I wondered if the trees like living here. I imagined them feeling a bit strange like the way I felt walking through these streets. Life in the countryside suddenly seemed so much more enticing. That’s where I’d like to live, but sometimes these kinds of things are not choices we can make. They still cast a beautiful silhouette against a sky of skyscrapers. They still give off that sweet aroma tourists can enjoy. I guess what is unfamiliar will eventually become familiar.