What in heaven's name happened to me two years ago? Out of boredom, I started reading the stuff I saved in the "Writing" folder of my Yahoo! email address (one that I never use anymore). Jeezus. There's some really depressing shit in there. The good part about it is that I wrote so, so much like up to three pieces a day. That's the only good thing about it.
TSIM SHA TSUI
There is the progressive sound of footsteps of hustling foreigners and locals in suits with no clear destinations in mind. It drowns out the voice of this ticket machine that's speaking in Chinese, then English, and Spanish too, saying I need to try another.
Outside the station, a different kind of noise resonates proving my life's soundtrack to be like a compendium of human clamor and nothing else -- screeching tires mixed with the odd cry of a child, carried by a hapless tourist who just lost a passport and a hotel key and now she's crying too.
I am walking, pretending I am going somewhere in this concrete district of southern Kowloon by the bay. After crossing the same fast food restaurant thrice, the compassionate waiter offers me a map and I take it, resolved to stop getting lost over and over again, but I find myself back at sea with a headache.
From my hotel window, I squint at buildings in search of someone in search of me. The idea of a sign saying, I'm right here crosses my mind, but dissolves quickly as I realize I don't know how to write in Chinese.
As I attempt to cross the street, I see a couple arguing in front of me. The woman is crying, screaming something I can't understand. The traffic light turns red. The man strikes her across the face and runs, leaving the woman upset and possibly, awakened. I walk pass her and pretend everything I had just seen was foreign to me.
Last night, as I was packing my bags, I found a postcard dated February 13, 1988. It was of the Golden Gate Bridge sent by a friend whom I've not seen in ten or maybe twenty years. Clipped on it, a photograph of us with the bridge glowing right behind.
I can still remember the soft feel of that red cashmere sweater that she used to wear all the time, how it protected her fragile bones from the harsh cold of the San Francisco air. It was one of the many small pleasures I enjoyed when I held her, and one of which I had long forgotten about until last night. I remember the blackness of her hair after another failed attempt to dye it red by herself. It smelled like burnt cherries for days. And I enjoyed it even more, the cuddling, because of the little sensations now lost in my memory which was never that good to begin with. I'm much older, but sadly no wiser than the 30-year-old who fell in love with a woman in red.
I remember the night I left her. I was on a plane, drunk after three shots of something I can't recall. I wanted to write to Tony Bennett, "I know now what you must have felt exactly, or maybe even worse, when you wrote that song about leaving your heart in San Francisco. Because Tony, sir, I left mine too and I think I'm about to die of regret."
But time makes it possible to forget. It pushes memories to the back of our minds the same way postcards get buried under layers of clothes that are never worn. What's even worse is how it never warns you. Truth is I discovered these while I was packing, again about to leave a woman in a different city, a different state, the same goddamn story.
I wish I could say time has made me a better man, but all it did was soften and weaken me. My face is now marked with lines I never told and knees weakened by steps I never took. I am leaving, always, and I somehow believe the only moment I will settle for good is when I hear the voice of Tony Bennett calling out to me, telling me to go back to San Francisco and reclaim my woman in red.