December 8, 2012 § 2 Comments
I was at Armuchee Park when I realized that the stories I wrote became reality. One Sunday I was out there again in the afternoon after having attended church and eating with my old friends there. With the passage of time, is it possible for anyone to stay the same, to maintain the same positions, be of the same opinions, hold the same convictions, retain the exact same purpose and direction in life, or even view life in the same light? Probably for some, but it hasn’t been for me. Perhaps it was the travel, the reading and learning, or the cumulative effect of so many meaningful conversations that have been inscribed on my soul as well as intellect. Most likely it’s a combination of these factors.
So, to describe the scene surrounding me that December second: it was a golden, warm fall day, a soft whisper wafted in the air disseminating the mendacious, mellifluous promise that winter would be kept at bay indefinitely. There was a pickup game of basketball going on in a nearby court located perhaps 75 yards from where I’d parked my car, and between the court and my car was a hill that obscured the view from one place to the other. The baseball fields were visible in front, and gazing through the windshield they appeared most inviting with the abundance of sunlight dancing and skipping merrily upon the unassumingly short and soft light brown grass. In my mind I gamboled in the afterglow of having encountered after so long a former crush in whom I still felt a sizeable spark of interest. She had always been very nice and was of that sort of stolid character such that no one could doubt, in spite of her youth, her absolute competence and reliability in handling any potential issues of import that might arise. Yet she was not stern in manner, but approachable and exuded a disarmingly contagious, delightfully heartwarming benevolence in her conversation. Thinking of her produced a sense of melancholy in me: it was due to the knowledge that even if we had been compatible at some point in the past, we were probably not now. I had changed, and to all appearances she had not. She was still the same sweet, cordial and caring beauty that she’d always been.
I write despite a headache as I listen to the music of 五月天、陳奕迅*、陳綺貞、黃義達、張震嶽、Soler、張懸 and others. The oaks and pines stand sentry behind my car; I can see them through my rearview mirror. A car passes by every so often, less than a dozen per hour. Now the basketball players have left and I have the place to myself except for two vehicles parked somewhat suspiciously on the other side of the field beyond the fence. I began to write this story in my miniscule van Gogh notebook that was a thoughtful gift from one of the people I write poems about. And now that I think about it, it’s possible that the two cars parked suspiciously are empty after all. It’s hard to tell from this distance.
So there I was, writing this story, when a cop pulled up next to my car after creeping along the road at a painfully slow speed. It was as if he were looking specifically for me, and in truth I believe he was. He rolled down his window just as the line 它並不是因為我/我是不是你的永久？ was playing on my radio. I was cool as a cucumber, all except the mild discomfort and tightness of abdomen typically associated with having a full bladder.
“What are you up to?” he asks.
“Just writing and hanging out; enjoying the pretty afternoon and listening to some music,” I tell him.
The officer was curious and paused to listen to the music emanating from my speakers. By this moment the CD had progressed to 陳奕迅’s 十年. He asked if I could sing along. I said that I could. He gazed expectantly for a moment more, and I then started singing harmony to the song and sang clear through the end of the song never missing a word. This surprised him even more, and with a resolute expression on his face he exited his car, approached mine and leaned over toward my passenger window to say, “I got a feeling this ain’t just random, like we were almost meant to meet! Mind if I get in and chat with you for a minute?”
“I had the same feeling,” I responded. “Sure, come on in and have a seat.”
He did, and we began to chat about a wide variety of things, including background and opinions and thoughts and views, and the peculiar thing was that each had during the dialogue the undeniable feeling that all of the information being revealed by the interlocutor was already known, as if we’d met and spoken of it all before. But we hadn’t.
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on the topic of alter egos and doppelgangers. We were both amused by the discussion of who was the real Me. I’m still not quite sure. The policeman relaxed more by degrees. We spoke of Mandarin and my time in Taiwan, and finally I was able to describe it in exactly the way I’d always wanted. It may have taken thirty minutes or three hours.
I learned about some of his experiences as well, but curiously, the more I listened the clearer it became that his recollections and the meaning he found in them were merely reflections of my own.
And then, just as I’m putting the finishing touches on the story, my CD player goes dead, the battery utterly exhausted (one could say it has fallen like a soldier on the battlefield, or 臥倒了, as the Chinese might eloquently put it） – I’ve been writing for quite some time, after all! I flag down the sole vehicle that had parked nearby a few minutes before, and with a sense of urgency because they are leaving at just this moment and if no one else appears I’ll be stranded. They gladly help me get it cranked again, and just as they pull out and I throw that old Volvo into drive, it goes dead again. Their white pickup disappears around a bend in the road, and I’m alone again with a lifeless battery. Stranded!
Rather than waiting for the officer to appear in real life just as I’ve written it in my story, I’ll go ahead and change clothes, take the bike out of my backseat and ride it back home. Only a few miles. Somewhere along the way I’ll certainly stop to loose the floodgates, because I’ve had to pee since before I started writing this story.
*You can click on the Chinese characters in this story to listen to the music I was listening to.