Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hello Dalian, Goodbye Dalian

If human relations aren't meant to stay permanent, if more than half of your life is spent on being a passenger in someone’s life or having others being mere passengers in your life – what, do all such encounters mean?

Dalian reminds me of many of my other locations of temporary dwelling – driving along the seaside road, I thought of the mountain ranges in Nikko; walking up the stairs towards the giant soccer ball inside the Labor Park, I recalled a similar hill-climbing in Seoul. The frozen lake and the packs of elderly playing cards nearby brought me memories of Jingshan Park in Beijing (and the day after a big snowstorm when I was too scared to walk down the icy, slippery slope); I too thought of Boston Common, the willow trees by the pond and the conversation that Robin Williams had with Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting”.

I thought about Harbin and tried to recall that very cold night when we had Russian food at a hole-in-a-wall place by the roadside – never had my legs and toes tasted such coldness before. I thought about all the landmarks/monuments that I’d been to in all the 2nd- or 3rd-tier cities in China – after awhile, all the “people square,” “labor park”, and “walking/cultural street” in these cities start to blend and look alike. I thought about all the dolphins, penguins, beluga whales I’ve seen or even swum with – some of them live in cleaner water; some of them have better trainers. I also thought about all the ocean views I’ve had, on top of a mountain, mid-level on a hill, or sea-level with my feet ducked warmly under a pile of beach sand, toasted in the mid-afternoon sun – the turquoise blue sometimes amazes me, the tranquility calms me, the distant waves give me a chill just thinking about the unpredictability of the mother ocean.

Some of those moments were accompanied by people; many of those were spent alone. In community and solitude, with loved ones or not - I’ve had them all. But never for more than a few days, if not even another chance in life.

Yet in the end – people come and go, memories refreshed yet fade away again. Nothing stays permanent. You grow and mature, you learn a few lessons; you cry for a few nights, then the next day you wake up and get on the road again. Some of the walks are long, some of them short; some joyfully unexpected, some painfully challenging and hard. Yet even the hardest moments don’t stay forever, just like even the longest rainy season (like the one we have been having here in Shanghai) is bound to see its end, somehow, sometime.

On the way to Dalian airport from downtown, I popped in my earphones and for whatever reason, “Both Sides Now” from Ann Sally’s “Voyage” album began to flow. I listened to it, put it on repeat, then listened to it again, passing through 3 car accidents on the highway in the meanwhile and seeing the last glimpse of daylight fading quietly into the far, dim sky --

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Hello Dalian, Goodbye Dalian. It's not just Dalian, but all encounters and people in life.

Hello, Goodbye.

And the journey continues.

梅ちゃん at 5:40:00 PM



at 3/18/12, 12:31 AM Blogger Benjamin Winters said...

I often find trips to be most peculiar when I've said goodbye and now am saying hello again. When returning home after more than a year away, the place is very much the same and yet it feels significantly different. I could even spend my time back home in the exact same way as previous visits and yet this time is different due to the knowledge of the events on either side of my flights. It's like my mood is a weighted average of recent memories, current perceptions, and near future expectations. Though, even I couldn't start to calculate this in Excel.


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