The Feather

Breaking Through: Chapter Two

The old man on Waikiki Beach

By the time, Journalist Keith Yunxi Zhu is 18 years old, he decides to write a short serialized novel, Breaking Through, reflecting on his life experience. Zhu wants to show his background and his dream through this novel, the unique points of his life and also the depression he had on the road to achieving his goal. For Keith’s first chapter, read Chapter One: Road Trace .

It was an ordinary miserable and magical dusk in Hawaii, as the sunset glow stretching the crevice between the distant cumulonimbus and the Pacific Ocean, tinting the hazy horizon fuchsia. Twilight spilled out, illuminating the rest cirrostratus to whitish gold. Fuchsia was the sky fire; gold was the hazy dusk, which backgrounded the atmosphere. The sky remained arctic blue mixed with light orchid purple, extending up to the endless cosmos.

Roaming the Waikiki Beach under the spreading sunshine, I sat down by a dugout canoe with my Swiss friend Brian, facing to the ocean. Brian was talented at music, he grabbed the Ukulele from his back, then strummed the chords of Rihanna’s Four Five Seconds. I sang along with the chords in that night of the faint sea breeze gentling my face and the waves lapping on the shoreline, orchestrated and embellished my singing melodiously.

Our play ended, I cheered for the beauty of life that I immersed. We both laughed to appreciate this gorgeous memory that we shared, maybe years later we would look back at this very moment, this ocean, this beach and this night.

“My mom died,” a man’s voice caught my attention, as I was gazing the clustered seagulls soaring and musing over a sense of happiness, I then turned my head to where the voice was from. An old man stood pine-straight with his arms folded, he did not look at us but gazed into the ocean. Bronze and aged skin indicated that he was Hawaiian descent.

“Oh, I am sorry for you,” I responded subconsciously as my brain wasoverwhelmed, wondering what he wanted to do, and why he told us that. “My mom died, I wanna sing a song,” the man said one more time, then turned his head and looked down to us. I gave him the Ukulele, he grabbed it without a “thanks,” then walked to the front of us.

While visiting Waikiki, journalist Keith Zhu climbed the Diamond Head Volcano.

While visiting Waikiki, journalist Keith Zhu climbed the Diamond Head Volcano.

“Sir, have a seat,” I said. The old man went “Oh, thank you,” then sat down and faced to us, “just imagine if your mom dead…” “I am a musician here in Hawaii… I am gonna sing a famous song,” the old man looked at the guitar instead of us, as he started tuning the instrument. I didn’t quite remember the name of the song, just knew the name was composed of four words and the last word was “tears,” but the old man did not cry while singing like I expected.

I could not hear the old man’s voice since it was hoarse and only a whisper of sound escaped his lips. However, I could feel the sturdy spreading to me from his breath, it made me realized this old man was mature enough to control his emotions, and look forward. I remained silent and listened to his Ukulele play, along with the waves lapping on the shoreline. 

Brian knew this song, so he sang along with the old man. I then moved closer to the old man, wondering if a sorrowful person would not be lonely if someone were beside him. I remember a couple of lines of lyrics that he sang when his voice was loud enough to be heard: “I will lie for you, I will die for you… I love you.” His eyes never wavered from the instrument, except for an occasional glance to the sea. A red wreath of hibiscus adorned around his neck, that seemed to be a dirge for his mother’s passing.

His eyes never wavered from the instrument, except for an occasional glance to the sea. I remember a couple lines of lyrics that he sang when his voice was loud enough to be heard: “I will lie for you, I will die for you… I love you.”

I gave him a hug after the old man finished his singing, Brian came up and shook his hand. I let Brian talked about Hawaiian music with the old man, they both revealed the homely smile of contentment on their faces, showing a degree of felicity. The old man then stood up and strummed the Ukulele again, sang another song for his daughter, a traditional Hawaiian song calledSomewhere Over the Rainbow.

“Blue birds fly, and the dreams that you dreamed of, dreams really do come true ooh oh… I hear babies cry and I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than we’ll know and I think to myself. What a wonderful world.” – Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Zhu attended an English class for foreign exchange students while visiting Hawaii.

Zhu attended an English class for foreign exchange students while visiting Hawaii.

We watched the old man leave, I turned to my friend and said “We gave him a good night right?” We then headed homeward. I did not say a single word, wondering if I could linger a gossamer of mildness on the old man’s heart that could keep silent in the bustle of Waikiki.

The next day, conceitedly, I roamed with my other friends around Waikiki once again. I checked out the place where I met the old man as I was walking the same way as before. I liked walking on the beach with the waves lapping on the sands and making the melodious and sonorous sound. Along with the reflection of the starry sky on the shallow water, it supposed to be the time for me to mull over the miracle encounter that just happened yesterday.

I ruminate the last sentence the old man told us over and over again. On the Waikiki Beach, an old stranger feverishly told me “everybody could be all amazing one day.” That was an ordinary old man’s ordinary belief. This belief was secular as it reminded me of a wish that I made four months ago in my article Road Trace, in which I wrote “Not so, I am meant to be amazing” at the end.

I suddenly turned to my friends and told them the story of my miraculous encounter, and I muttered one more time: “We gave him a good night right?” The old man on the Waikiki Beach never told me his name or his age, but the wonder of the story was that we had a night enjoying each other’s music, and this stranger’s words reminding me of own myself: I have left a lot on the road I have trodden, more than just a gossamer-like trace. An epiphany suddenly flashed through my mind, the wish I wrote in Road Trace four months ago had already come true.

Now I wished the old man would make his dream come true one day, and I too wished his mother who was in the heaven would see how amazing her son is. I then looked around, I got beautiful friends with me walking on the great Waikiki, I was not alone, under the firmament.

I thought it should be the time to jump to the next step, to the dream, which is treated by the earthlings as a boorish topic. I then looked up to the firmament, asked my friend to turn on his speaker. I looked up to the sky not just the floor of the beach, as a line of the song Airplanes played, “Airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars, I could really use a wish right now.” I muttered to myself, making a simple wish to one of those shooting airplanes which were shining like crystals: “I hope for a day in the future, where one of those airplanes is mine.”

Zhu also skydived, scuba dived, swam with sharks and surfed during his two week trip to the state.

Zhu also skydived, scuba dived, swam with sharks and surfed during his two week trip to the state.

“I had this wildest dream which I had since I was 11,” I told my friends, then suddenly I realized that I am a very fortunate expresser. People have given me the confidence to express my wildest dream, and more is that people believe I could make it happen. As I remembered distinctly, when I first told her what I want to do in the future, the coordinator of my Spanish study-abroad programme extolled:

“If somebody else tells me that he wants to start an airline company in the future, I would tell him to stop daydreaming, be realistic. But seriously, for you, I just fell like you can definitely do it.”

What else could be better than “everybody believes in you?” I wondered “has my life been too good? How many peers could travel to 22 countries within three years? How many of my peers have experienced an encounter like mine of the Waikiki Beach? How many peers have friends from 19 countries all around the world?”

I wondered if I have been through too much for my age: How many high-school students could travel to 23 countries within three years? How many teens could ever experience a jeremiad that wreathed my feeling on Waikiki Beach? How many people have friends from 19 different countries?

However, just like what I acknowledged in my article, Road Trace. Besides appreciating my destiny, I more appreciated that I could guide myself to attain the untrammeled and cosmopolitan life I wanted, and I was having it. I lived with a sense of pride and my heart wide opened. 

IRAN: INNOCENCE. My discovery in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Journalist Keith Zhu Yunxi shares behind-the-scene opinion of Iranians

The amethystine asterism in the night, bewitching like diamonds, shined the cosmos on the Persian Gulf. Milky Way stretched away to meet the ocean, together the full-moon submerged the skyline, endless like a nihility world of mystery. The night, the emerald-colored, cannot be found in any other place other than the Arabian world. My mind calmed, this fairytale of Arabian Nights finally stretched my mind to sleep. I praised it, and said “good night.”

The capital of Iran, Tehran at nightfall during his Thanksgiving holiday break, Nov. 2017.

The capital of Iran, Tehran at nightfall during his Thanksgiving holiday break, Nov. 2017.

I was afraid. It was my first time fancied flinching; anxieties came from realizing it was the last-hour joy in this journey, because later once this airplane berthed on the isolated of turmoil, in a Persian desert, I musted to explore it with eyes wide open.

“Do not take any American stuff; do not speak English; please be safe…” It did not surprise me to see people’s reactions since worldwide media demonizes Iran continually since its nuclear crisis and Iranian Hostage Crisis. Moreover that George W. Bush listed Iran along with Iraq and North Korea as the “Axis of Evil.” But their words made me recalculate the risk and value of this trip. However, I never allow myself looking back.

I started remembering my confidence when I decided this adventure to keep inside calm, — I always seek similarities in cultures rather than differences while in traveling. Whether we had impediments to language, race, religion, nationality or even political tendency, one thing besides all of those obstacles is we are human. Thus there should always be a fundamental base to establish the possibility for any communication, since we all have the common sense of kindness, evil, happiness, fear, and pain. Consequently, it surprised me when people next to warned me not to be naive and that Iranians would do everything to me since they are poor.

Really? I yet firmly believed people are born innocent in any environment.

The City of Tehran’s miracle of tawny illuminating the night sky along with the Persian moon made me forget all my curiousness until my airplane’s landing, I had a calmed sleep. On this desert of ancient civilization, an isolated nation seemed not fearing people away —at least, here is civilized to lighting up.

The propaganda painted on the outer wall of the former U.S. Embassy at Tehran, Iran.

The propaganda painted on the outer wall of the former U.S. Embassy at Tehran, Iran.

Here propagandas line the walls. A manipulation of the “Statue of Liberty” is doodled as the “Statue of Evil” on the outer wall of the Former U.S. Embassy at Tehran, which now the Iranian government has made it the “Anti arrogance Aban 13th museum”, an “Anti-United States museum” as not exaggerated.

That was where the Iranian Hostage Crisis fired up, Nov 4, 1979. Iranian university students were supported officially, ring-fenced and broke into the U.S. Embassy, took it over and held 52 American diplomats and citizens as hostages for 444 days until Jan 20, 1981.

Mahdi Farahani, a member of the management at the Anti Arrogance 13th Museum (former U.S. Embassy in Tehran), explained the situation.

“There were 400 students(this number each medias reported differently, range: 300-2,000),” Farahani said. “Three hundred boys and 100 girls, by the time they arrived they wanted to take over the embassy, based on two reasons: 1, pressurizing the U.S. government to return Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to Iran. 2, Students wanted to prevent another coup time in Iran.”

The historical delinquent in the Iranians’ mind, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who usurped the throne of Iran from Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini by the result of the Coup of 1953, which was officially conspired by the United States and the United Kingdom. Westernizing Iran, violating the traditional Islamic faith and indulging corruption, made citizens came to live in poverty and famine. Years later, the former Iranian leader Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini led the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, supported by various Islamist, leftist organizations and secretly the Soviet Union, became the leader of Iran again.

Islamic Revolution exiled Pahlavi to the outside world, founded the new Islamic Republic of Iran as a theocracy country, ended Pahlavi’s westernizing, brought the conservative Islamic faith back. Students were roused due to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi having treatment in an attempt to recover from lymphoma in the United States, Iranian Hostage Crisis transpired. They hold hostages to menaced the U.S., stop inferencing Iran’s internal affairs and return Pahlavi, the history sinner. Current U.S. President Jimmy Carter called the hostages “victims of terrorism and anarchy” and announced that the United States would not yield to blackmail.

For me, Iran is genuinely the sacrificial lamb of the Cold War that entirely happened inevitably due to multi-international politics — Leninism just found an excellent chance to defend the western Capitalism. By this visit to the “Anti-United States Museum,” I realized the once Iran and America’s honeymoon period may not appear again until a possible World War III or another coup.

Propaganda slogans such as “Down with U.S.A” are still painted, stretching a full side wall of buildings in the city of Tehran. A picture of Donald Trump is painted on a giant board, stands on the yard of the embassy and states, “The American elite feel ashamed of having such a president.” Brochures of criticizing what the west has done in Iran “In the Name of God” were distributed “to the youth of western countries” from the “Anti-United States Museum,” all in English.

Do they really hate Americans? I wondered. Political propaganda of “Anti-United States” are seen everywhere in the City of Tehran. However, meanwhile Pepsi and Coca-Cola are favorite in Iran, iPhones are fashionable, just like anywhere else.

“American people? We are friends,” Farahani said. “We are friends, we are not having any problem. The only problem is the government and the politics. … The U.S. government appears intent to distribute fake media, so the reality is not shown to the public, so they (the Iranian government) decided to open this (the former U.S. Embassy at Tehran) as a museum. The propaganda there then shows the world, especially the tourists there, to understand the reality of here… Like the movie Argo, they were just trying to show the thing they want, not the reality.”

The CIA facilities left some of their equipment in the Former U.S. Embassy.

The CIA facilities left some of their equipment in the Former U.S. Embassy.

The movie Argo documents by the project “Argo,” the CIA operation which rescued six American diplomatics during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. It is undeniable that Argo only represents U.S. government’s version to the public; in the museum of the former U.S. Embassy, the CIA’s machines are displayed. Boards state these are the evidence of American’s spying on Iran. Iranians wanted to point out the interference imperialism which the western countries had done in Iran, especially the U.S., to the world.

I felt strange, it is no longer a secret that every single consulate in the world must have some spying facilities inside, but why do they need to prove it to the public? “Oh, of course,” I muttered. “History is written by the victor, distributed by its authority, but remembered by all innocent people.”

Farahani’s answer to my question showed me that he believes humans are innocent too. His words made me remember Wendy Sherman’s speeching at a class of Harvard Kennedy School of Government, in October 2015. That was three months after the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran nuclear deal)” had been agreed.

The United States was leading a negotiation of limiting Iran having nuclear technology. This 18-day negotiation was excruciating and chained countries’ negotiators around the meeting room in Vienna Marriott Hotel, frozen. Representatives of countries’ negotiators had been modifying the deal again and again, whatever requirements they proposed the Iranian had been rejecting. Since the Iranian government was holding tons of centurial grudges against the western nations, this negotiation was definitely not based on a fundamental trust. They were almost desperate, this negotiation was destined for failure.

The Iranians were real trouble, I would never ever want to negotiate with them again.  — Wendy Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

At the moment this negotiation was almost decided to be waived, both Sherman and Mohammad Javad Zarif (Iranian negotiator in chief, Minister of Foreign Affairs) were told of their grandchildren’s births, coincidentally. They both became grandma and grandpa in that 18 days. Happiness made both them cannot help themselves to share the surprise with each other. Thus, during the coldest international negotiation, when both of them were saddled with their own country’s benefits, but at one moment they both offed guard, and snooped the other’s phone and praised “So Cute!”

This was brilliant! It dissolved everybody’s tension at that very moment. We all are today’s children and tomorrow’s parents, after realized this, negotiators endeavored again for the best. The result of this endeavoring was that in July 2015, the Iran Nuclear Deal was officially agreed, the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was maintained again.

Modern underground metro system in Esfahan, Iran.

Modern underground metro system in Esfahan, Iran.

As the exchange for Iranian giving up their nuclear development, the international society started ending the “Sanctions Against Iran.” Iran’s economy has been reborn. This country is now opening its door to the world, spreading the atmosphere of its civilized Persian charm. Although, this changing has just started.

In the CBD of Tehran, some people are staying at the money exchange shops, copying down and reporting the currency rates from boards. Banks in Iran are not connected with the international financial system, so foreign credit cards are not available for using inside of Iran. Moreover, a majority of currency exchange agencies outside of Iran do not accept or offer the Iranian Rial, so international visitors travel to Iran brought major currency and exchange once arrive.

Though there are so many obstacles for Iranian people trading internationally, they started developing economic domestically, catching up with the international to modernize public facilities everywhere inside of their country. In some lagging cities such as Shiraz, I even saw a thorough modern metro system, which only builds in world’s most modernized countries such as UAE, China, Singapore, and Japan. In some major cities such as Esfahan and Tehran, BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), a new type of bus transportation, has become a major mode of travel in citizens’ life. In public parks, there are marbled geysers, and uniformed staffs irrigating floras. Moreover, classified garbage cans are on streets.

Citizens enjoy an afternoon at Naqsh-E Jahan Square, Isfahan Province, Isfahan.

Citizens enjoy an afternoon at Naqsh-E Jahan Square, Isfahan Province, Isfahan.

On the Naqsh-E Jahan Square, one of the most popular sights in the city of Esfahan, citizens enjoy their free time, chatting, bicycling, dating, just like everywhere. Some students were assigned English assessments, they video interviewed the rare foreigners about their opinions of Iran: Do they like here? How do they think the safety in Iran is? Also, What’s the most remarkable thing in their countries? Foreigners’ visiting is still a novelty for Iranian people, so much so that I was always asked to join in selfies with local people, at least twice a day. Iranians care about the outside world’s opinions, they want the world to know their country more an more, they want their country to grow stronger and stronger, just like everybody else.

Those students’ naïveté reminded me of, a genuine changing of ideology biases on “North Korean people lie so often and easily,” by recognizing their instinctive emotion when it shined innocence in the darkness of militarism. Suki Kim, a woman who went undercover posing as an English teacher, taught students who were expected to be the future leader of the nation.

“They lie so often and so easily,” Kim addressed at Ted Talk. “Whether about the mythical accomplishments of their Great Leader, or the strange claim that they cloned a rabbit as fifth graders… They lie to shield their system from the world, or they were taught lies, and were just regurgitating them. Or, at moments, they lied out of habit. But if all they have ever known were lies, how could we expect them to be otherwise?”

Formatted education bans critical thinking, brainwashes the ideal that the DPRK is the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation andthe activity of honoring their Great Leader fulfilled all of their free time. All of those happened on the heavily guarded campus of Pyongyang University of Since & Technology, which forbids reaching others included their families and everywhere is bugged.

A revealing of sincere emotion showed on student’s personal letter, touched Kim’s soul and made her give up the idea of expecting to tell students the truth and open their mind. She came to adore her students after really searched their hearts, she just realized how dangerous it is to change others recklessly:

“They wrote that they were fed up with the sameness of everything, they were worried about their future. In those letters, they rarely ever mentioned their Great Leader,” Kim said. “During those months of living in their world, I often wondered if the truth would, in fact, improve their lives. I wanted so much to tell them the truth… But for them, the truth was dangerous. By encouraging them to run after it, I was putting them at risk –of persecution, of heartbreak… My dear gentlemen(her students), I don’t want you to lead a revolution, let some other young people do it. The rest of the world might casually encourage or even expect some sort of North Korean Spring, but I don’t want you to do anything risky, because I know in your world, someone is always watching. I don’t want to imagine what might happen to you if my attempts to reach you have inspired something new in you. I would rather you forget me and become soldiers of your Great Leader, and live long, safe lives.”

On the Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square, a needle on compass points at a mosque, simblizes a token of reminder, that Muslim people should always focus on the pure faith

On the Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square, a needle on compass points at a mosque, simblizes a token of reminder, that Muslim people should always focus on the pure faith

Due to incomprehension, misunderstanding and misguided media, the outside world treats Iran as a mystery country of chaos. Of course, Iranian’s national condition is different to the North Korea’s. However, interference in others lives, forcing them to change in case of everything is unknown, would put those innocent people in danger just what Kim had almost done on her students, that means another revolution or coup.

Iranians, their ideology accepts neither westernizing nor ‘easternizing,’ but only Islamism. Nowadays people would like to call it a theocracy, or some would call it a dictatorship. Intellectuals do have the right to criticize, but you and I, we, never ever have the right to rule what should Iran be and how the Iranians should live. Iranians have their own logic of managing their country since only Iranians know what Iranians want. I understand their logic, and I recognize it. And I heartfeltly hope that we, as the outside world, can just stand by, leave them alone and watch, innocent Iranians people can one day make their country beautiful.

My discoveries in Iran continually refreshed my opinion of this “third-world country.” Although I met tourists from The Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, I had not seen anybody from Canada, the U.S. or the U.K., I knew they are afraid of visiting Iran. Since Iran is a theocracy, rigid religion takes the role of leading people’s faith, Iranians smile so naturally, it made me never feel being in danger as what media distributes. At the end of my journey, I did not even want to call it an adventure, as Iran is much safer than I’ve ever imagined. Poverty does not lead Iranians to guilty, and Iran is not desperately like everybody thinks it would be.

My past experiences structure my ideology of seeing the world. During my last Thanksgiving trip to Sri Lanka, I realized that innocence could be emphasized once it is apart from ostentatious vanity. Of course, we all have the same feeling of being afraid of the unknown, but I believe the unknown is the only thing we’ve ever been afraid of.

Thus every time I take a step to start a new journey, my mind is always very peaceful. I want to see how we are the same, how we can still be the same as we live in different cultures or event in another land which is isolated. I heartfeltly hope I could always keep this traveling style and the real world would not one day force me to change what I believe now: That we all are born innocent.

Breaking Through, Chapter One

Road Trace

By the time, Journalist Keith Yunxi Zhu is 18 years old, he decides to write a short serialized novel, Breaking Through, reflecting on his life experience. Zhu wants to show his background and his dream through this novel, the unique points of his life and also the depression he had on the road to achieving his goal.

The show ends and the opera actors come up to stage, step forward and take a bow. The finely dressed audience stands up while their claps reverberate inside the hall adorned with those golden Renaissance-era decorations. The giant chandelier, hand-carved reliefs and innumerable oil paintings down each side wall diffuse the atmosphere filling Her Majesty’s Theatre in downtown London.

Feather staff Keith Zhu reminisces his time spent in London over the course of the summer.

Feather staff Keith Zhu reminisces his time spent in London over the course of the summer.

It was long-expected to enjoy The Phantom Of The Opera. The story of this musical is more about knowing whether one should let go when someone they love finds more than someone’s possessiveness of beloved. As the opera phantom releases Kristin, he fades back into his underground maze, leaving with a mask and a cloak left on Kristin’s hands.

The phantom’s appearance reflects my own self. On the road I have trodden and I too wish to leave something, even if it is only a gossamer-like trace that would propitiate me with the musical, incarnated as reality. And it empathizes everyone’s life. The minutiae of the play have suffused in our whole life, as does Kristin’s sentimental line rendered: “That voice which calls to me, and speaks my name.” At such moment, tears geyser.

The show never ceases to impress, as people leave Her Majesty’s Theatre, walking slowly, still tasting, chewing, mulling over each piece of this musical. We feel a degree of felicity, which has been shown on our homely smile of contentment and musing over life.

This is a scene meant to take place on London’s streets at night. The style matches: England is this place where gives people the feeling of the ambivalence between relief and depression, existing simultaneously.

We leave the theatre, exposed under the glorious canopied sky beneath which the tawny fog stretches. I like being in the city when the air is so thick and opaque, with a drizzle of rain that wets the hair, but that we scarcely notice, as soaking and drenching in our memories and feelings of tonight. A black vintage car turns and passed us, I can see its brassy beam, looming out from the rain, I can see the trace of the wheel left on the road as I turn my head while it passes by me. I leave my footprints on the ground as we are walk forward.

“It is sad to leave London,” I said. Even walking down a brightly light street of the most pulsating nightlife in the town could not propitiate me or allow to forget that I am only staying here for one more week. Somehow I’ve learned peace exists here, right by the carnival because it is about knowing how to be content and to relax.

Taking National Rail to London Blackfriars is Zhu’s daily routine.

Taking National Rail to London Blackfriars is Zhu’s daily routine.

Once upon a time, an epiphany flashed through the mind of my friend Robin while he was sitting under a tree in Hyde Park; this flipped the magnet within him to the right pole for him to attach himself to London. My memories here are fresh, as hypnotic as Adele’s songs, captivating and genuine; the tranquility of Londoncannot find itself in any other place.

Every morning, taking the national rail from King’s Cross St.Pancrasvia Farringdon and City Thameslink to London Blackfriars is my daily routine. I can see the Shard and the Tower Bridge from the bridge station once out of the train. A sense of happiness washes over, from the matinal breath of the Thames Riverunder feet, it fills with tons of the motivation to learn and improve, to start a brand new day. Later, immersed in the friendship, laughing, sitting outside a pub in a bustling alley, yelling cheers, for health, let the 9 p.m.’s sunset glow wave goodbye to this another day.

“We just don’t want to leave this kind of life.” My Italian friend Even shows me I am an emotional wreck. Even was right. An Italian from Milan would say that London is a place that makes people want to stay and come back again; even more, so that I live in the countryside of California’s Central Valley.

“She Sitteth In The Tawny Vapour

Ineffable’s Art To The Minutiae

Hath Much Of Me Not Been Devoured

Recollection’s Art The Tableau Vivant

Fare Thee Well

Shall We Meet Again”

She here refers to London, the city of fog; the buildings are built in tawny-colored. Robin wrote this poem to make the promise that he will come back again, predestinate, setting an appointment with himself and the city. Then his plane took off and flew away, with its jet tail remaining in the endless blue sky.

Where is my trace I have left behind? Robin left this fallen, beloved city with a promise: to come back again. The phantom of the opera left his beloved Kristin with a mask as a token of remembrance. Even left London, but Even has a place to belong, unlike me, I am a gypsy. On the road I have trodden on, I wished to leave something, even one single gossamer-like trace would propitiate me, satisfy me with the approaching of the end of summer, convince me that I had done something beyond wasting time.

I am more than fortunate in taking a step into this imaginary land now, with my understanding of the world fully developed; I don’t want to forget any of the moments I’ve spent here; those moments are the most remarkable and incredible of the summer of my most ornate, youthful age — 18.

Eventually, I left London and proceeded to my next challenge – Wharton‘s summer course. Where is the trace I have left there? Is it diffused in the sky? What do I, an 18-year-old, have left in the world?  How many memorable moments remain in my head? How many people I have met would remember my face years later? How much have I learned? And by how much have I improved?

I was searching for those answers. After I finished my courses at Wharton, I traveled to Paris, but the moment the airplane touched down on the runway at Charles de Gaulle, a message from the heaven seemed to place in my head: “Go back.”

I stepped onto a Eurostar to London on my second day of being in Paris, and returned back to Paris at the end of the same day.

I walked the same way as I have done before. This town still kept up its medieval countenance, exuding a vintage atmosphere, sprawling out to every corner. This elegance makes me want to drench in London all over again at this very moment. My memories were fresh. I repeated my daily routine once, allowing my soul to be permeated with London as I walked again.

I like it in the city when two worlds collide

That day, the need to stay passed. The meaning of an ending is getting ready for the next journey. I realized that things never change but people are always changing. Just like having a different feeling in the same town as I went back again.

Zhu watches the sunset retreat behind the Shard(left tallest), tower bridge(middle), Thames River(middle).

Zhu watches the sunset retreat behind the Shard(left tallest), tower bridge(middle), Thames River(middle).

Looking around, I saw that London was still flourishing, the way the sun is still above the British Empire. I appreciate that my experiences can successfully guide me to attain the life I want, untrammeled and cosmopolitan, and I am having it now, living with happiness and my eyes wide open.

I remember the boy who kept repeating Adele’s “When We Were Young” on his last night as a seventeen-year-old. The minutiae of The Phantom of the Operasaturated his trite life, as did Adele’s sentimental line — “I’m so mad I’m getting old, it makes me reckless. It was just like a movie; it was just like a song.”

I don’t know how many days I am entitled to altogether, and it may be that becoming an adult came so fast that I was not even ready for it, but in any case, my quota of days is undoubtedly wearing away. I came to this world stark naked, will I go back as stark naked as ever, I wondered.

Not so, I am meant to be amazing.