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January 2003
Four fears ·  New York Winter ·  Temperance Fountain ·  Prayer flags ·  Tom's for Breakfast ·  New York Haikus ·  Brooklyn Botanical Garden ·  Atchafalaya Sunset ·  Great Egret · 

January 20, 2003  |  Four fears
When I was approaching my mid-20s, there was for some time a strange sensation that I have finally lost my fears. As a child, a timid one, I was afraid of spiders, afraid of darkness, and at one time afraid of the stuttering I was nearly developing. But somehow in the process of growing up I left these behind. I've always wanted to grow up; in my early 20s I was glad and proud that I had transcended so much. There was little in the outside world that I would not do. Yet I was so conscious of this leaving behind, this lack, it felt significant, like a vacuum, bound to be filled by something else.

Now, nearing 30, I have a sense of what that thing consists of.

In the late afternoon, sunlight fast diminishing, I finally take a walk to Prospect Park. Tomorrow morning I have an interview, rescheduled, which if I do well in it would allow me to turn my recent world-traveling into a more sustainable lifestyle. But if I don't, if the interviewer doesn't show up again... That was fear no. 1. In the afternoon while in front of the web, that time-sucking machine, I looked at my old company's website for the first time in ten months, and a job description held my attention, in the sense that I couldn't look away, except to step out of the house. If I have to go back to the last three years, live them again, over and over, becoming stagnant between the job and the commute... Especially when that's what's expected of me. Fear no. 2. I emailed a friend to ask him to call. Haven't talked to old friends in so long, email exchanges dwindle. J doesn't even check email anymore, so I don't know if anything significant happened in his life. Or insignificant. There are fewer and fewer reasons to go back to the Bay Area. No one, anywhere, is waiting for me to return, to come home. Fear no. 3. Dad and I are finally communicating now, but he doesn't ask me questions or answer mine. He will meet a friend of mine visiting China, only briefly, but at least I will know from my friend how my father is, see pictures. I'm picturing his hair, is it all white now? He is not getting younger. The time that I have left to get to know him is dwindling. Fear no. 4.

I'm not coming to the conclusion that childhood and adulthood are similar, just populated by different fears. It is freezing cold as I walk and in less than an hour I'm shivering, yet I make the long way through the park, quiet at this hour. Half the sky is lit red-orange by the sun now under the horizon--a light effect called bounce. No one tells me to pull on another layer or to come home earlier, and I'm glad of this. No, there's no going back. Displacing the nightmares of childhood, the stuff that preoccupies us now is the very thing that propelled us toward adulthood. What would I do without them?

Posted by yingzhao 04:56 PM | Permalink
January 18, 2003  |  New York Winter

Frozen lake, Brooklyn Botanical Garden

New York Winter
They may say if winter's here, spring couldn't be far behind, but in New York that's not true. Winter is still long coming even if you think you're in the worst of it. The cocooned people huddle in stores they have no need for just to be indoor, and end up carrying out shopping bags. Even hardy, un-sheltered people like these two, who normally loved the elements for their aesthetics and the sharper focus coldness induced, do not venture outside often. But they are on a late afternoon walk through a large city park, the first venturing out of the tiny apartment this day. The park is beautiful in its desolate way, brown branches against light gray snow, water frozen over, no movement save for the flinching of a few brown fuzzy tails. They talk quietly, deliberating over their words to both communicate and infuse a poetic sense into each response. It's the kind of talk that attracted them to each other in the first place, in which they can feel deep and precise and understood, the very opposite of chit-chat. But there's one less layer to the conversation now, because the question of who they are to each other is clear.
The sense of the tragic is there, they both knew it. Being who they are, both are no stranger to this feeling. Being familiar with it, both are more comfortable with this than with uncertainty, and now they can shape the experience to suit their own narratives. They talk engagedly, make characters out of passers-by, he teachs her haikus, they are having fun. Fun is fun. But sadness is also sadness. An idea of themselves as diamond-sharp intruments has often formed in her head as they talked, which is exciting to her, and he speaks of being split open. But emotional callouses proved harder than diamonds.
The late afternoon light fades quicker than one expects. The wind is cutting her cheeks now, and they make an early turn to head back. He continues to make haikus, 3 lines of 5-7-5 syllables. She has a difficult time deciphering syllables, and constantly asks him to count individual words for her. As they turn on his street, a quiet row of brownstones, she half surprises him:
Indelible marks.
Hearts broken, mended, nurtured,
a long walk in snow.

He turns, smiles from behind his glasses. She smiles back, and they duck indoors.

More images from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Posted by yingzhao 01:44 PM | Permalink
January 17, 2003  |  Temperance Fountain



Temperance Fountain, Lower East Side, Manhattan

Posted by yingzhao 12:05 PM | Permalink
January 16, 2003  |  Prayer flags

Prayer flags, Tibetan temple, Staten Island, NY

Posted by yingzhao 04:06 PM | Permalink
January 15, 2003  |  Tom's for Breakfast
Yesterday morning M and I go into Tom's for breakfast, good ol' eggs and homefries and pancakes kind of thing. Tom's harkens back to soda fountains, the inside all formica and trinkets and Christmasy though it's mid January. Tom, perhaps in his 50s with his baldness showing through the mesh top of the chef's hat, greets me with "Ah, you're staying today?! Unbelievable! Our takeout girl!" with apparent flirtatiousness. We sit down, order the food. I'm liking the atmosphere, there are banana pancakes coming to me, I'm a kid again. I comment on how nice Tom is, and M says, "He's a pedophile." I look at him. There must have been something in my look as he responds plainly: "It's true, you know. They keep him away from children," then adding, "he does a good job here." I believe M, of course, but my first thought was, jeez, I didn't need to know that. I thought, there must be a lot of things in New York I'm better off not knowing. Then I thought, who's the kid here? If M had said, "Wanna know something about Tom?" I'd have said, "Sure, do tell." I may have felt the same way later, wishing I could purge it, but I'd have wanted the dirt, no doubt. I'm objecting more to the shock and plainness of M's statement, because there were warm fuzzy feelings over pancakes that I was promised, and I had to be delivered into the dark world. I'm naive, yes, but more forcefully childish is to favor my own world over the real one. Everyone is like this, of course, in the face of darkness, we are all children.

Posted by yingzhao 09:30 PM | Permalink
January 14, 2003  |  New York Haikus

New York Haikus

In Greenwich Village
There are some beautiful things
click clack goes their heels

Behind the billboards
the suits watch the world go by
Times Square timelessness

Shows open shows close
beauty traded for a song
the neon stays on

Another New York haiku
to say I've loved you

Posted by yingzhao 09:10 PM | Permalink
January 08, 2003  |  Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Brooklyn Botanical Garden, NY

Posted by yingzhao 08:55 PM | Permalink
January 04, 2003  |  Atchafalaya Sunset

Atchafalaya swamp basin, Lousisiana

Sunset, Atchafalaya swamp basin, Lousisiana

Posted by yingzhao 09:40 PM | Permalink
January 03, 2003  |  Great Egret

Great egret

Great egret

Great egret, Avery Island, LA

Posted by yingzhao 06:23 PM | Permalink
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