The cold city

It's been awhile since I've heard bits of a song that seem to reflect my mood perfectly. Even if the song itself is talking about something completely different.

那年夏天 - 许飞

偶尔缱绻 星星闪烁剩最亮一颗
往事如风 划过夜空 你的歌
跳动音符 熟悉旋律谁来和

人来人去 留在身边的朋友不多
那些天真 纯纯的笑 哪去了
洁白翅膀 美丽天使不见了...

Is it because I've been on four plane flights in two weeks? Is it that I've met new and old friends, family, just starting to be part of their lives again, only to be saying goodbye? Or is it that I had once again began to slip away from my life here and now, being lost in mysterious Obernewtyn, the complicated family ties within the single Korean drama I've half watched all these years (because I stumbled across it during my hotel stay overseas), or the dark world of Batman where everyone on screen seem to get killed, and where heroes and villains alike love to use blazing guns? Is it because I've packed and unpacked countless times and will be living in two homes for the following weeks, being confused where my belongings are here or there? Is it because I had lost my voice without singing and felt too tired to go grocery shopping and find something to eat?

I can't see why the first few days back were so hard. Over the semester, in a layer of busyness, of meals, of catch ups, I always forget. But each time I come back, I find something terribly cold about M, and it has nothing to do with the weather. It's a place of solitude, as it always has been - reminiscent of a time many winters ago when I arrived in a cold room, with tired walls, at the end of a corridor in which I knew no one. That semester I was way more sick than now, lying on my bed, half awake, half feverish. Didn't appreciate the college "friends" who made fun of me disappearing for days rather than just dropping by and seeing how I was.

Time away heals, but old troubles, new sorrows, quickly return. The city suited my melancholy moods during those earlier years, especially the mesmerising dark beauty of the river reflecting the city skyscape at night. But I'm content to do without the artistic emo-ness. No matter how many years later, each time the loneliness and sadness welcomes my arrival. And each time, it becomes a bitter reminder of how I handled those feelings when I first came. When I visit these places afresh I see the ghost which are so intertwined with the cityscape, familiar routes through which our footprints have long been covered by layers of leaves, dust, rain.

This is the place like no other, where love has turned into hate, where my high school best friends have become cold strangers, not because they were far away, but for the very fact that we lived in the same city. The superficiality of relationships in this city perlexes me, whether at school or church. Even the friends I have here now are mostly a remnant of my life away from this city. In all my travels I've yet to find a place which matches this city's culinary quality and diversity. But despite that, and despite M being the place where I've done much growing up, crossed the milestones of my young adult life, I doubt that I can make my home here. Many years will not change that.

But even being in my favourite town is sad. The same old nursing home student accommodation, but the people living behind the same doors are long gone. The brilliant red jars of quince jelly we made, knocking each other's doors, the vegetarian Peking duck rolls, the Rockband sessions in a crammed room, late night talks, racing to the hospital, walks and runs along the lake, weekly badminton - these have faded from reality into mere memories. At least our friendships are still reality.


enlightened0ne said...

Friendships are more precious than any place, than any food, and than any memory. A close friendship can keep us through any trials, and make our happiness reach greater heights. The past may be missed, but with great friendships, wonderful new memories always lie ahead. ^^

Winnie said...

Hope so! Well, good friends + good food is like super super super good :D :D :D

Winnie said...

+ we certainly had plenty of that last semester :)


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