Nostalgia on the years gone, translated…
Can’t go back again. When the wind pushed the clouds aside. As the waves, slowly, took over the beaches. As we lay there, on the patches on the hills, gazing out, toward the city in the afternoons, and what we were imagining, were, too far beyond our reach, or futures, I couldn’t have known, that the ships that sailed to sea in such bravery, would, NEVER come back to the harbors again.
Back, then, I was, in the last year of high school. Very youthful, very slim, like a stick, my heart, like the sun, every day, I’d, looked forward to, my own, bright future, and the future had, taken over my mind. Because, reality was simply, way too, harsh and bitter.
H, he was my best friend in the last year of high school. He’d read “The Dreams of the Red Mansion” and memorized it, Schopenhauer, Dostoevsky, and he’d, become, trapped by the philosophical wanders of life like why are the lives so intertwined and why love was, so bitter. I can’t help but recall, his thick brows, slammed down hard, onto his forehead. Back then, Murakami, Milan Kundera, Marquez had yet to exist. But, we had Camus, we had “The Downfalls of a Household”.
not my photo…
And I, had come out of, a shy little town, into the big city, here, to study. My excitement and curiosities took over my gloom, I’d not gotten enough time, to feel depressed yet, but, I’d, longed to have, something more, something, given to me by my own youthful days, to, help me feel more settled at my age.
The first thing that came to my mind was love. Secondly, I’d still thought about, love.
And still, what, is love, to a seventeen-year-old adolescent boy?
My friend snuck a Playboy Magazine and passed it around at break. And, it was, as if, I’d heard EVERY single young man’s throat, swallowing hard, everybody opened up his eyes wide, and took turns, devouring the pictures. No doubt, they were, seductive. But, so far, so, unreal, and, are they, equivalent, to love? But, what is, love, to seventeen-year-old boys like us?
H and I, would often carried our lunch boxes during afternoon nap, followed the boredoms of our own youths, and, trekked along that small pass by the mountains out back. In the summers, the wildflowers bloomed, in the winters, everything was withered. Our hearts, however, didn’t change according to the seasons, after all, we were, both, seventeen-year-old boys!
Thanks to our school principal back then, for multiple years, maintained for us, the free time to us, during lunch and the nap hours. There are, no walls around the school, no curfews, as the bell start ringing, you, just head back into class and sit.
Our seventeen-year-old hearts, at least, can find an outlet, aside from the school work, they can drift off, can fly high, can find their own ways out.
H told me, he wanted to write a novel. I’d told him, I’ll be fine, settling for writing poetry.
H said, he’d contemplated suicide. His mother died right around the time when he was testing into high school. That, was why he wasn’t able to get into the top-three schools of his choice. As he started in his last year of high school, he’d, insisted on transferring to the school I’d gone.
not my sketch…
I’d told him, I’d never thought about suicide. Although I’d read “The Sorrows of Young Wurther”, but, I’d not yet experienced love, so, I’d not had a reason for suicide.
H matured earlier than I had. He’d listened to Beethoven, Mozart, and, took me along to hear “Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20”. I’d, shown him my “Writings of Hu Shih” that’s printed without permissions, told him, that I’d, wanted to become, a politician.
H looked at me with disdain. And, I’d, looked at him, with that sense of awe.
We were, the best pals who’d shared a lot of meaningful conversations, despite our differences. We lay on the hilltops, allowed ourselves to drift off into daydreams, and debated, and, just, stared into the skies, doing nothing. The days, slowly, approached the big entrance exams.
As the wind grazed across the clouds. When the wild grasses swayed like the waves. Oh, how much we longed, to skip this seventeenth of our lives that had us both stuck, and jump, straight into our twenties, toward our thirties, into the years of our middle age glories!
We will, keep on, being, best friends, won’t we, he’d asked me, I’d, nodded.
At age seventeen, he’d, fallen for, a seventeen-year-old girl. And, I’d, tried, falling in love with a girl a year older. We’d both, written, so many poems, coped them, on those pages lined with red lines, used those, black-inked pens, copied the verses, word, for word. “Our love, like the carvings of the characters, the ones written down on the pages don’t count, the ones that imprinted to beneath the pages were the most meaningful.” Those, are the few lines I’d, vaguely, recalled, and, I’d remembered, who, I’d, written it for, but, her face, got carried away, by the wind already, and all that remained, was a blurred shadow.
Can’t get it all back again. H and that girl continued in love, until they both graduated college. And I, I kept, wandering endlessly. Could never figure out, what exactly, love is.
As we enlisted, H’s girlfriend went abroad abruptly, vanished, they’d, ended.
After H finished serving in the armed services, he’d become, like a balloon with the air let out, so dried up, and, just stayed, locked in, inside his small rental living space, wrote endlessly, to continue making his ends meet. He’d smoked, drunk too, and, would have casual relationship with girls too.
He’d often ridden out on a pre-owned Wolf 125, and visited my small suite which I’d rented for my grad school days, carried on in conversation with me, we’d sat on the roof of my apartment, drinking beers, cokes, looked out, toward Taipei, that was, a river away, and we’d sat, for an entire night at a time. Then, we’d, parted, I’d returned back to my suite, to work on my thesis, my papers. He, back to that small place of his up the hills, continued writing his novels, the articles that magazines wanted him to write.
not my picture still…
I’d studied in grad school, and worked, I’d already, given up, on writing poetry. But I had, read, endless volumes of novels. I’d told H, you write just like the era that Hemingway nicknamed the “Fallen Generation”!
H looked at me, his eyes, hollowed and empty. He’d become, too tired, to rebut.
Several years later, a girlfriend of mine saw him, and instinctively commented, “My! Your friend is this, nothingness!”
She’d described it real well too. Especially, the years that followed, the stocks were rising up very high in Taiwan, the real estate getting higher and higher, and H and I, were like, foreigners, in the streets of Taipei, that’s filled with discussions of money, stocks, we’d still talked of, poetry, of novels, along with, the topics that were, about, to come into the public’s attention. We were, very, empty, back then.
I’d lost in love too later on. For years, I’d looked in the mirrors, and saw, H’s eyes, looking back at me, deep, and hollowed. I’d told myself, “You, are from the god DAMNED fallen generations!”
My classmate got married, then divorced later. Until he got diagnosed with cancer, then, he’d, all of a sudden, come back to life. After chemo, he’d dragged his weakened, thinly body, and, produced two novels.
I’d gone to visit him, we’d sat on the branches of a huge tree on the hills, chatting. Everything’s blown away like the wind, the time passed by, slowly. He said, do you remember, the wanderings of our last year in high school? I’d smiled and told him, it’s, the best time of our lives, suppressed, but, filled with, never-ending dreams, how can I forget!
Back then, how happy we were. He’d started, dangling his feet, as he talked about it.
Back then, we were, very happy, I’d, replied. We’d looked forward to our futures, looked forward to love, to life, without needing a reminder, of how old, and how tough and hard, the realities are!
We had stayed, best of friends. How difficult it was, starting from age seventeen, we’d weathered through, our separate trials of life, the walls of our hearts, had already been, painted over with graffiti, and the years left a ton of scars, torch marks on them, but, we’re still, the best of friends.
As we’re about to, sink down, into the impractical eighties, Marquez who’d written his fantasy-reality novels based off of Latin American had won the Nobel Literature Prize. Many years ago, I’d used a few of his lines, to encourage myself, “Life is not the living from day to day, but the days we remembered, the reoccurrences of the past we’d spoken of.’
We must, live on well, we need to, keep those days that’s gone past in mind.
And so, I’d understood, the meanings, the drives, of why it was, that we felt, compelled to write.
Can’t get it back. Can’t get it back. As the wind lifted us forward from seventeen, took us, toward another hilltop in our lives, how were we to know, that hiking to the top was difficult, and, coming back down is even, harder!
But, living to my age, what, have I, to fear!
So, this, is someone’s own thoughts from examining his own youthful years, to looking at the roads he’d taken, to where he currently is, it’s, a sort of introspection, a sort of, a review over one’s own life, and, at one time or another in your lives, you will, need to do that “walk-through” of your own lives, and you’d better, do it now, because, you’re, running out of time!